Female MPs, Activists Plot to Resurrect Controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill

The Female Members of Parliament under their umbrella body Uganda Women Parliamentary
Association (UWOPA) together with a number of women rights organizations have joined hands to cause the resumption and possible passing of contentious Marriage and Divorce Bill.

The leadership of UWOPA under their Chairperson, search Monica Amoding convened at Parliament on Monday afternoon with the top representatives from Action for Women in development (ACFODE), Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Women Democracy Network (WDN-U) and Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE).

The visibly determined legislators and activists told journalists that they have finalized plans to reach to the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga who is also an active UWOPA member, to fix the Bill among the businesses to be handled this year.

According to the above enlightened ladies, the Bill is required at this point to address several challenges women are facing mainly in relationships.

The UWONET Chairperson, Ritah Aciro stressed that the national assembly should also pass the Sexual Offenses Bill to curtail the sex related offenses which according to her are on the increase.

“Parliament should prioritize and quickly pass the Sexual Offenses Bill to control and in fact stop the ever increasing related sex offenses that women are always the victims of,” she said.

Ms. Aciro also wants the remaining hot 155 clauses of the Marriage and Divorce Bill to be debated and passed.

“The 155 clauses in the Marriage and Divorce Bill are being taken as turbo and are the ones delaying the whole process should be retabled, exhausted and passed.”

The Marriage and Divorce Bill was tabled in the 9th Parliament by the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Gen. Kahinda Otafire. MPs were sent back to their constituencies to consult with their respective electorates on the merits and demerits of the Bill before passing it.

The largely conservative rural voters disagreed with several clauses of the Bill that they say contravene cultural values.

The Bill was later shelved and always taken as one of the toughest items.

Early this year during the first conference of the newly elected female MPs at Hotel Africana, Kampala, the legislators vowed to make sure the Bill goes through in this 10th Parliament.

The Bill aims at empowering women in marriage and protecting their interests. Cohabitation for months shall be taken as marriage if the Bill is passed and the woman will be entitled to sharing the family wealth in case of divorce.

The women rights activists added that the local council authorities should also be sensitized and trained to deal with the sex related crimes that are always take as untouchable items.

Ms. Amoding said there is a backlog of cases in courts due to the absence of marriage and divorce law and Parliament should hurry to pass it.

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