Friday, March 15, 2013

Uganda: Time to get it right for once.

New Vision ( Uganda ) reports

Do not rush Marriage Bill - Clerics

                                                            Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali.

Religious leaders under their umbrella body, Uganda Inter Religious Council (UIRC), have called on Parliament to carry out more consultations on the controversial Marriage and Divorce Bill before it’s enacted into law. 

At new conference in Kampala, the Archbishop of Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali cautioned Parliament against rushing the Bill, stressing that it might divide the country. 

This is a joke. Anyone with half a brain can see that the bill is a step in the right direction. Voice of America reports.

" The Marriage and Divorce Bill outlaws a number of traditional practices, makes asset sharing mandatory in a divorce, gives cohabiting partners property rights and makes marital rape illegal." 

He said they must go slow about the Bill to enable then generate consensus. 

“We are in prayer to see that we get a better position on this Bill to take care of the marriage institution. Marriage is a foundation of unity in our country. If it is passed carelessly, we might get problems in future,” he noted.  

Ntagali said Parliament needs more time to carry out consultations countrywide to come out with a good law that unites all sections of people.

Again from Voice of America. 

" One clause of the bill would make it illegal, in case of divorce, to demand a refund of the so-called “bride price,” the sum traditionally paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s. 

Betty Kasiko of the Uganda Women’s Network explains that many women get stuck in bad marriages when their families cannot afford the refund.

"Once they move away, their families are pushing them back, telling them ‘You have to stay in that marriage because you know we cannot refund that bride price that was given,'"  she said.

Another clause states that unmarried couples living together for ten years or more must split their assets if they break up."

The reality is that this bill is long long overdue, much of the western world is actually moving to the next logical stage of marriage reform granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage from a NZ perspective the ODT reports

" National MP Chester Borrows, who described himself as a conservative Christian, slammed the "abhorrent" way that some groups - including churches - had conducted themselves in the debate."

The bill has walked through its first two readings. I am no fan of Borrows but his observations on the behaviour of opponents is spot on and all they have achieved is further maginalisation of their crackpot ideas. This is not unique to New Zealand and something that the clergy in Uganda would do well to think about. 

He stressed that religious leaders from different sects and other stakeholders must be consulted to give their views on the bill to come out with a harmonious law. 

He added that religious leaders had not been extensively consulted on the Bill as alleged by several individuals in Parliament. 

The bottom line is that marriage is a state institution and as such I see little justification for discussing it with religious groups. Any state that fails to treat all it citizens equally is heading down the road to a failed state. Voice of America continues,

Another clause states that unmarried couples living together for ten years or more must split their assets if they break up....

But, says Kasiko, cohabitation is a reality for 60 percent of Ugandan couples.  Many women do not have a choice in the matter, she says, and when the couple splits up it is often the woman who leaves empty-handed.

"We know many times as women, they cannot negotiate for the formal marriages," she said. "They are less empowered, they are less propertied, they are less financed, so they really wait upon the man. The property rights of these people should be protected."

Ten years seemed a bit high from my perspective I would have gone with 3 years. 

 “We need an embracing law for all groups and faiths. We do not want to divide the country. No need to rush because if a family institution is not well handled, we cannot have a stable society,” he said.

Ntagali also stressed that the cohabitation clause should not even have surfaced anywhere in the Bill because it has never been marriage at anyone moment.

“It is good the cohabitation clause was finally scrapped. It was wastage of time because also the church does not recognize it and will never. We only know religious, civil and traditional marriage,” he said.

Actually I am starting to wonder what planet Ntagali is on. The cohabitation clause was a great idea, who cares whether the church recognises it or not.  

The director of ministerial and family life for the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, Pastor Samuel Kajoba said the law needs to come out clearly on divorce to avoid regrets in future.

“It does not show when divorce should be done and this is dangerous to our society. It does not show how we can help the families to stay together before the divorce. You know very well the church does not believe in divorce. These things are important,” Kajoba noted.

He said if the Bill is passed in its current form, it is likely to promote domestic violence and moral degeneration in among the communities. 

You would think the world was about end the way these guys are going on. This bill is about equality for women under the law. It is something that will strengthen the Ugandan community. It is a shame that these clowns don't listen to people like  Desmond Tutu. 

Kajoba said Parliament needs to study the Bill carefully to check the various clauses, consult religious leaders and other stakeholders around the country to avoid regrets.  

Wrong. Parliament needs to pass the legislation.

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