Several male Legislators walked out Parliament on Thursday in protest of what they called a rushed move by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to hurriedly pass Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009 into law.
Debate on the bill that is to regulate marriages, divorce and property ownership among spouses began on Wednesday but on its second day of debate it turned out to be an issue between male and female MPs.
The male legislators were forced to walkout saying Speaker Kadaga backed by female MPs were rushing to have the bill enacted without according them ample time to debate it.
Kadaga allowed a motion by Kitgum Woman MP, Beatrice Anywar, to have the bill moved to the committee stage with less than one hundred legislators debating on the matter.
The Committee stage is a crucial stage in law-making where amendments to a bill are made before it moves to the final stage of enacting it into law.
Several male MPs that had earlier contributed on the bill had asked for more time to consult but the move by the Speaker to allow it move to the committee stage prompted a walk out of over 30 of them.
Sembabule Woman MP Hanifa Kawooya, on noticing that the male legislators were walking out, asked the Speaker to order the Sergeant at Arms to restrain them from moving. Kadaga did not make the order but moved on considering he bill clause by clause.
Ten out of the over 176 –clauses in the bill had been accepted by the House dominated by female legislators but with a few male MPs.
Jacob Oboth Oboth, the West Budama South MP, is one of those that moved out in protest. In an interview with URN, he said the Speaker was seemingly determined to have the bill as a Women’s day gift to women. He said the bill is likely to benefit a few elite women.
The stormy issues that male MPs raised concern over included clauses on cohabitation, bride price, divorce, and sharing of property by spouses.
The Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009, a revised version of the Domestic Relations Bill, was tabled in December 2009 but has been missing on the parliamentary business ever since. But now Speaker Kadaga wants the law passed before March 8, the International Women’s Day.
The original Domestic Relations Bill was opposed by mostly the Muslims who said it was not in conformity with the Islamic law.