18 Mar 2014

Vanuatu chief calls for end to newborn baby killings

3:00 pm on 18 March 2014

Reports from Vanuatu say a Tanna chief is calling for harsher penalties for mothers who kill their babies at birth.

The Independent reports the chief, Malcolm Raymond, says it is a growing problem and needs to be immediately addressed.

Mr Raymond says authorities have retrieved babies from bushes, toilets, rubbish bins, and he says one mother fed her newborn to a dog.

He says the causes are poverty, a lack of orphanages, psychological distress in pregnant mothers, and a failure to utilise family planning services.

But the president of Vanuatu's Council of Women, Blandine Boulekone, says women are being unfairly blamed.

She says women are being ostracised and isolated by the community when pregnancies are unwanted.

Ms Boulekone says a change of attitude is needed in Vanuatu to be more supportive of pregnant women.