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#Bavakane social campaign against sex-selective abortions

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#Bavakane is a social campaign aiming to raise awareness about the high rates of sex-selective abortions in Armenia. Armenians are known for their strong preference for boys. The desire to have a son is so prevalent that parents of multiple girls name their youngest Bavakan (literally: Enough) in hopes to stop the disappointing ‘streak of girl children.’ In the past 25 years sex-selective abortions have claimed around 40.000 girls. According to UNFPA’s estimates, by 2060 there will be 93.000 missing women in Armenia. The main aims of the campaign are to stop discriminating against a child’s gender, to stop denying girls a chance to be born and to stop ignoring the fact that thousands of children are never born because of their gender. The main medium to draw attention to the campaign was the “Mother Armenia” statue in Victory Park of Yerevan. It is the tallest statue in the country, observed from most parts of the city. Mother Armenia is the female personification of the country. It not only embodies Armenians’ praise for their military, but serves as a manifestation of the country’s historic appreciation for its women. The latter makes it a perfect medium to help raise awareness about the discrimination against girl children and women in general. #Bavakane campaign launched on October 11, on the International Day of the Girl Child. All lights illuminating the statue were switched off. Then special LED projectors turned the whole statue red; a color often associated with danger and commonly used on “Stop” sign. It drew the attention of passers-by in the surrounding area and stayed red until dawn. To communicate the messages of the campaign short texts with statistical data were projected on its pedestal. A website was set up as a landing page for the campaign: contains full information, including statistical data, analyses and reports. It also gives a platform for people to share their personal stories. Official Facebook and Instagram pages help spread the campaign on social media and provide feedback. A PSA video was made to promote the campaign through social media. It is an emotional tribute to Armenia’s achievements in science, sports, culture, etc. By the end it narrates Armenia’s “achievements” in sex-selective abortions. The video ends with a call-to-action to stop highlighting only the achievements while completely ignoring glaring issues.

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