KAMPALA – The Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana has admitted that Government is shy at presenting the Marriage and Divorce Bill, which explains why the legislation has been left to accumulate dust among the Parliament trophies.
Mr. Rukutana’s unceremonious admission followed call by Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah who had asked Government to table the bill for the second reading, a duty Rukutana failed to execute asking for more time to make consultations on the Bill.
He said, “I feel shy presenting this bill for the second reading because consultations are still going on, I pray for at least two months within which we can finish consultations.
All stakeholders are consulting, this is a law that doesn’t need to be rushed,it needs time, needs consented efforts to reach consensus so the period of two months is long enough for us to finish consultations.”
However, Rukutana’s shy explanation was rejected by Joy Atim (Lira Woman) who asked the Government to withdraw the bill if they have lost interest instead of giving Ugandans false hope.
“The Marriage and Divorce Bill has been in Parliament for more than ten years, you can hear from the Attorney General, that he feels shy, shy over what?” She quizzed.
“If the Government doesn’t want it, can it be disposed of? They are regarding the Marriage and Divorce Bill being issues of women, it is for both gender we ask the Government to take this matter as serious. Is he in order to say he is shy to present this on the floor of Parliament?” she asked rhetorically.
Parliament had lined up the Marriage and Divorce Bill 2009 for a second reading but as had been the other occasions, debate on the highly contentious bill like the other times before, failed to kick off.
Government tabled the Marriage and Divorce Bill in 2009 with the main objective of reforming and consolidating the law relating to marriage, separation and divorce; to provide for marital rights and duties, but opponents of the Bill have rejected the contents saying it seeks to promote immorality, after it was discovered it sought to recognise cohabiting as a form of marriage.
One of the contentious clauses is Clause 14 that seeks to eradicate marriage gifts and makes it an offence to demand the return of those gifts and a person who contravenes this law faces a one-year jail sentence.
Clause 114 gives a right to any partner to deny the other sex on grounds of poor health, surgery, childbirth or fear of injury or harm, including fear of disease with the spouse who forcefully has sex with their partner faces imprisonment not exceeding five years.
Section 140 of the bill bars a spouse from petitioning for divorce before the expiry of two years from the date of marriage and a spouse must prove that he or she is suffering exceptional hardship in marriage.
Clauses 115 and 116 that spells out on the property acquired before marriage is not shared upon dissolution of marriage unless it becomes matrimonial property, raised a heated debate during consultations of the bill.
Section 117 seeks to recognise cohabitation as a form of in relation to the sharing of property.