MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE BILL: Bumba Consultative Meeting Aborts

A consultative meeting convened by Syda Bbumba, the Nakaseke North MP to get the views of her electorate on the Marriage and Divorce bill has aborted. On Tuesday, Syda Bbumba convened a meeting at Kiwoko Community Hall to consult residents on the Marriage and Divorce Bill. Shortly after opening the meeting, Bbumba read out fifteen summarized clauses that address issues of conjugal rights, property sharing, divorce and the ban on bride price. Bbumba asked her constituents to discuss and support the bill arguing that it cements restrictions on incest, homosexuality and widow inheritance.

She also claimed that other countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania had embraced the bill and passed it into law. However, the residents would not have any of this. They charged at the legislator saying there was nothing to discuss in the bill because it was brought in bad faith and contravenes their religious and traditional beliefs. They unanimously asked parliament to trash the bill and resolved to close the meeting. Fredrick Muyingo, a resident of Kikubanimba village in Kikamulo Sub County asked parliament to trash the bill and instead discuss the issues that affect them such as the minimum wage, lack of drugs in government health centers and low funding to the agricultural sector.

Muyingo said there is no need for parliament to waste time discussing marriage since it is regulated by religious and traditional leaders. Christopher Kawooya, a resident of Kiwoko town council said Section 14 (1) of the bill downplays the importance of marriage gifts, yet it is a sign of appreciation and socially binds the family. Kawooya said in Buganda, people pay bride price willingly depending on their financial ability. He said banning bride price is an attack on cultural rights. Kawooya asked the Buganga Parliamentary caucus to consult the kingdomon on the bill.

Gertrude Kaggwa, a resident of Kasana zone in Kiwoko town council expressed fear that the bill may fuel conflicts in homes because it depicts women as greedy people out to get their partners wealth. Kaggwa says there is no need for the bill and instead asked government to empower women to do business and earn a descent living within their marriage. John Mutaasa, a resident of Kapeke village in Kikamulo Sub County questioned how the court will determine marital rape. He said that some women may take advantage of the law to purnish their husbands as a result of simple disagreements, which may lead to violence.

Bbumba explains that she visited seven of the nine sub counties in her constituency but all the meetings were chaotic. The former minister said that she was surprised women are opposing even the clauses that seem to favor them.

Last week, parliament broke off to give MP time to consult their electorates on the marriage and divorce bill.

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