Communication Brief

If you are  a journliast writing on the issue of sex selection , creative person  teacher, student , advertising professional, film-maker, artiste , who wants to contribute to the  audio , visual communication on sex selection through posters, short films, advertisements please use below communication brief as a guidelines and do share with us your creative  expression on sex selection at

FASS –Communication Brief


The phenomenon of extremely low sex ratio at birth reflects the strong daughter  aversion and son preference prevailing in Indian society. It is located at the complex  interface of several factors including the status of women in Indian society, anti -female  biases, patriarchal social mores and prejudice, spread and misuse of medical technology, the changing aspirations of urban and rural society, the unprecedented rise of a consumer  culture, changes in family structure and reproductive decision-making.

There is a need to  formulate a comprehensive  strategy  on  advocacy, communication and behaviour change. The communication strategy should be accompanied by  broad-based  social mobilization,    grassroots campaigning and advocacy  efforts through Panchayati Raj Institutions, unions, cooperatives, self-help groups,schools, colleges and other institutions.

For last two decades the communication and messages on sex selection have been anti abortion  and its important we do not repeat our mistakes .

The Communication and Advocacy Strategy,  should include the following:

1.  The larger concern and context of gender equity should inform the framework of  understanding for all messaging. Thus, it may not be useful to create messages that focus on ‘saving the girl child’ in a de-contextualized manner.

2.  The message should  not stigmatize  abortion per se or create an environment that may dent women’s reproductive rights. Language such as ‘female foeticide’, ‘killing of girls’, ‘murder of girls’, ‘murder in  the womb’ should thus be avoided.   For instance, ‘practices of sex selection’ or ‘sex selection’ may be more accurate descriptors.

3.  Overly medical visuals should be avoided – focusing on the ultrasound and foetal images-which may serve to instill fear about the act of abortion per se rather than deter the target audience from seeking sex determination through ultrasound.

4.  Messages should not be ‘instrumental’ –  in which women are projected as the means to another end, rather than their presence in society being an end in itself. Also, messages intended to promote the birth of girls should not be embedded in the same traditional patriarchal family structure and roles that are at the core of son preference. This would be self-defeating in the long term. An example of ‘instrumental’ messages that promote ‘traditional gender roles’ would be those that tell the target audience to reduce sex selection because sisters are necessary to tie rakhis on brothers.

5.  Messages should not promote traditional images of women as ‘essentially mothers,wives, sisters’.

6.  Message creation should be cautious when using images of prominent women as ‘high achievers’ or ‘success stories’ or ‘role models’. These should not inadvertently impart the idea that girls need to justify their birth, or women need to justify their presence in the society through extra-ordinary levels of achievement.

7.  Ordinary women playing non-traditional roles, in their everyday lives, and thus contributing  to their own well-being, as well as to the life of society, polity and economy may be considered one route to some messaging.



  • Avoid use of language that portrays girls as objects of pity and devalues them. Some of the communication says, ‘Give girls a chance, they too can look after you’ or ‘mujhe maa ke garbh me kyon marte ho, kewal is liya ki main ladki hoon?’ Therefore, avoid language that reinforces such stereotypes.
  • Similarly avoid use of cliches such as ‘daughters as laxmi’ or ‘beti bojh nahin lathi hai.’
  • Refrain from using words such as foeticide, killing, murder, and genocide as this focuses attention on negative emotions of fear and violence thereby turning the audience away from the issue at hand.
  • It is best to avoid using the term ‘sex selective abortion‘ as it confuses the issue by linking it to legal and safe abortion per se.
  • Avoid language that holds the mother responsible for sex selection. She has very little control over the decision.
  • Use language, which is simple, direct and appeals to the heart.


  • Avoid imagery that is gruesome or gory for instance foetus in a bottle or a dagger piercing a rosebud for the reason that a violent image will have the audience go into a switch-off mode.
  • Avoid imagery that reinforces gender inequality as in the case of some of the popular family based TV serials. Some of them continue to portray women as inferior and men in haloed terms.
  • Respect the female form. A grotesque or provocative portrayal of female anatomy while discussing sex selection could take the issue in a different direction. It also distracts from the message being communicated.
  • Issues To Be Highlighted In The Creative Expression
  • Here and now issue
    It is vital that the seriousness of the issue is brought out. It is not something out there in the future. It is a ‘here and now’ issue and there has to be a sense of urgency in the creative expression. It would, therefore, be important to create an imagery of the issue that encourages immediate action.”
  • Tradition and technology nexus
    Sex selection is a reflection of the low status of women in the society and a patriarchal mindset steeped in son preference. Easy access to technology has made the situation far worse. The need of the hour is to break through both. “
  • It contributes to violence
    Sex selection is probably the worst form of gender-based violence – it results in selective elimination of the female foetus.
  • Equality is the mantra
    Focus on the equality mantra – bring out how neglect and discrimination leads to an unequal status for the girl child.
  • Value the girl child
    Encourage equal value of the girl child and imply that she is not a liability.
  • Equal access to opportunity and resources
    Highlight efforts that are at the heart of the problem-equal access to education, health, employment and productive resources
  • of land and property.
  • Mindset change
    Law alone will not work; what is needed is a mindset change. Depict how ‘each one of us counts’.

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