A court ordered an Australian mother Wednesday to stop breast-feeding her six-year-old son.
A custody hearing in Melbourne was told the woman had encouraged the little boy to breast-feed when he visited her last year. The mother denied breast-feeding the youngster, then five, saying he wanted to touch her breasts, according to court documents.
However, the court rejected her explanation and restrained the mother from exposing her breasts to the child, requiring him to breast-feed or permitting him to touch her breasts.The court also ordered that the boy, who cannot be named, should live with his female guardian and spend time with his Fijian parents during school vacations.
The boy has lived with the guardian since 2004, but she said that in 2009 the mother told her she wanted him back, the court was told. The guardian's lawyer told Wednesday's hearing that it was a very rare case in the Federal Magistrates' Court where a person who was not a relative was awarded custody of a child over the biological parents.
"I really can't remember one where a non-parent or relative has been granted custody of someone's else's child," the lawyer said. "This woman had been looking after this little boy for some five years and he had come to look upon her as his mother even though he knew the difference."
In her judgment, a federal magistrate said the guardian and the boy's parents came to an agreement in 2004 that she would have full responsibility for him until the mother wanted to resume full responsibility for him.
The boy continued to have contact with his parents, but after staying with them for six weeks last year, the guardian said the boy told her his mother had hit him with a belt and still wanted him to breastfeed.
The federal magistrate decided it was in the child's best interests that he continue to live with his guardian, and said she was confident the woman would continue to promote the boy's relationship with his parents and his Fijian culture.