Fiji woman tells: "Why I stole baby"

Published: Fri 14 Apr 2000 09:10 AM
SUVA: A Nausori woman who stole a newborn baby from Fiji's main hospital on Monday [has told a court] she was under pressure from her husband's family to have a child, the Daily Post reports.
Druma Tavoinayako, 21, pleaded guilty to stealing the baby girl from the Colonial War Memorial Hospital before Magistrate Makereta Waqavonovono in Suva court.
Suva lawyer Nepote Vere, representing Tavoinayako, said she stole the baby to please her husband's family. Tavoinayako lived in a childless marriage with her in-laws.
"She has been constantly pressurised by her husband's relatives [because] she was not bearing a child.
This is common, especially in the Fijian community," Vere said.
"They've said a lot of things about her. They told her she was wasting their food.
"When she took the baby home, she changed the nappy and bottle-fed her, just as if she was the natural mother."
Divisional Prosecuting Officer Armorgam Reddy said Tavoinayako stole the baby six hours after delivery. She was in the maternity unit on Monday to visit an aunt.
The baby's mother, Vilisi Buna, 38, of Waimaro in Naitasiri, was still at the maternity ward yesterday. After the delivery, the baby was washed and returned to her mother for feeding and then placed in a cot.
When Ms Buna woke up, about 8pm, the baby missing. But then she thought the nurses had taken her away.
Later, the nurse on duty enquired about the baby, and then the mother suspected the worst.
The alarm was raised and the nurses searched the unit. Police were called soon after.
Police found the baby on Tuesday at 4.30am.
They arrested and charged Tavoinayako.
Ms Waqavonovono told her that she committed a serious crime. "No mother would like to lose her child," she said.
She bailed Tavoinayako for $300 and warned her not to go near any maternity unit in Fiji. She ordered the prosecution get a social welfare report on Tavoinayako.
She is to report to the Nausori Police Station on Mondays between 6am to 6pm.
The prosecution objected to the bail application, on the ground that Tavoinayako is likely to steal another baby.
The prosecution suggested she be examined by a psychiatrist. She will reappear in court in six weeks time.
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