Masaka Diocese has launched a campaign against cohabitation. Under the campaign cohabitating couples are encouraged to register and take matrimonial vows with facilitation from the Catholic Church.
Rev. Fr. Michael Ssenfuma, the Katimba Parish Priest in Sembabule district says they discovered that there are many couples living in such unrecognized marriages.
Fr. Ssenfuma says they decided to launch this campaign to help poor catholic families that can’t afford the church marriages. He explains that they counsel the couples before inviting them to take matrimonial vows.
Rt. Rev. John Baptist Kaggwa, the Bishop of Masaka Diocese says more than 50% of the couples in the diocese are cohabiting. He says this threatens the existence of the church from which servants are got. He also says such marriages promote polygamy in breach of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Gertrude Nakabira, the Leader of Family Apostrate in Lwengo district says they have so far counted 600 cohabiting couples. She says many women are forced to elope with their lovers due to fear of paying bribe price. Nakabira says they are now sensitizing parents to stop demanding for exorbitant bride price.
Some couples told local media that there are many reasons why they have not formalized their marriages. Some of them cite financial constraints while others blame it on family problems such as parents who chase away their children after getting pregnant while in school.
57 year old George Ssebuliba is a resident of Mayira village in Lwengo district. He has been cohabiting with his wife Jeremina Nakaweesi for the last twenty eight years. They have five children. Ssebuliba says he failed to wed his wife because he did not have money.
Ssebuliba, a primary seven dropout says by the time he got Nakaweesi, he was a peasant farmer and couldn’t afford bride price. He says they decided as couple to live peacefully and educate their children until they get money for their introduction and wedding.
Ssebuliba is one of the many couples who have registered for a mass wedding at Katimba Parish in Sembabule district. 50 couples have been registered to undergo the mass wedding as part of the anti –cohabitation campaign.