Lawmakers and CSOs agree to remove cohabitation clause from marriage and divorce bill

Jova Kamateeka, President of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee and Mitooma MP. PHOTO FILE

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ugandan Women’s Parliamentary Association-UWOPA and the Ugandan Women’s Network-UWONET have reached a consensus to drop a controversial clause in the Marriage and Divorce Bill providing for cohabitation.

The move follows national consultations on the issue, according to lawmakers and activists. Laureen Karayi Nabimanya, coordinator of the UWONET program, says they have built consensus among key stakeholders and hope the bill will be enacted in 2019.

Activists believe that passing the bill will help align development goals as well as achieve gender equality in Uganda. The bill aims to regulate the rights and obligations of people within the institution of marriage and to provide consolidated laws to defend the institution of marriage in order to promote social justice within the family unit.

The bill initially aimed to reform and consolidate all laws relating to marriage, separation and divorce, as well as to provide for recognized marriages in Uganda, marital rights and duties, and recognition of cohabitation in matters of marriage. property.

Among other things, the bill also seeks to ban inheritance from widows, which activists say conflicts with the constitutional guarantee of free consent to marriage. Other provisions relate to the proposed change in the price of dowry to wedding gifts, matrimonial property rights, marital discord and dissolution ranging from separation, divorce and remarriage.

Jova Kamateeka, chair of the parliamentary human rights committee and Member of Parliament for Mitooma, said that even if they agree to renounce the name and cohabitation, marital rape should be provided for by law.

Marital rape was one of the controversial issues of the bill that has dragged on for more than 40 years. Kamateeka said the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs is expected to resubmit the bill with the proposed amendments based on the citizens’ consultations and proposals.

MPs are optimistic that the bill will pass as the majority of contentious issues have been dropped.

Following this consensus, CSOs are expected to meet with the Council of Presidents, senior leadership of religious leaders and religious institutions early next week to have some nice points on the bill.

Karayi of UWONET says this meeting will be a return to religious leaders on what they have agreed since they have been at the forefront of opposing the bill.

Kassanda North MP Simeo Nsubuga advised supporters of the bill to devote more energy to convincing religious leaders to appreciate the benefits of the bill.

He also observes that marital rape, which activists are reluctant to abandon, remains a controversial issue that must be resolved before the bill returns to parliament.

Rosette Kajungu Mutambi, MP for Mbarara, says there is no way for them to pass a law where religious leaders are offended. She also says they support the bride price but oppose a refund of the bride price once the wedding doesn’t work out.

Gulu Municipality MP Lyandro Komakech notes that marital rape is the result of insufficient sex education by Ugandan men.

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