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Vanishing Brides: Regretting Past Decisions

Aired June 18, 2003 - 19:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now lets turn to India, where two decades ago, many mothers-to-be aborted their pregnancies to avoid having a girl. Well, today, as the boys from the period become old enough to marry they are running into a big problem. No girls for them to marry. Satinder Binora, has the story in one farming village.
(END VIDEOTAPE)

SATINDER BINORA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades, India villages have been a market of picture-perfect development, supplying the rest of India with food and grain. Now this region has acquired a more dubious distinction. There's fewer girls here than anywhere else in India.

So where have all the girls gone?

In the 1980s, India was flooded with cheap ultrasound technology enabling millions to determine the sex of fetuses. Females were then selectively aborted, because social scientists say Indian society prefers boys.

SARAJO RANI, HOMEMAKER (through translator): Boys carry on the family name. Girls just get married and go on to their husband's homes.

BINORA: Sarojo Rani, says marrying girls also means huge dowries, so 12 years ago, Rani to sought helped in terminating her pregnancy. Buffeted by political winds in those days, that demanded more effective population control. Few in India gave much thought to such abortions. But in 1994, and facing a demographic imbalance, sex selective abortions in India were outlawed. Social scientists complain the move may have come too late for some 40 million women who they say are quote, "missing."

(on camera): Over the years several women in this northern Indian village have aborted female fetuses. Now, the young men here are facing a crisis. They can't find brides. The problem is so serious, this alley alone is home to 20 frustrated bachelors.

(voice-over): In years gone by, Pradeep Kumar, a landowner would have been the model eligible bachelor. Now he's 29, still unmarried, and increasingly fed up.

PRADEEP KUMAR, SEEKING BRIDE (through translator): The shortage of girls started because of the ultrasound machine and all of the abortions. No one ever gave thought to the shortage we are facing today.

BINORA: Pradeep Kumar, spends a lot of time praying for a bride. He also promises if he ever gets married, he'll never let his wife have a sex determination test.

Satinder Binora, CNN, Mehndi Ka Durana, Northern India.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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