First Word: Allow us have our say on the Bill
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 00:00
I have listened as the debate raged on about the Marriage and Divorce Bill this whole time and two things are clear. One, most people, especially those who dare to speak out loud about it, are ignorant about the facts in the proposed laws. And this includes some legislators too mind you. Then, I think most people are not taking off a moment to think about the issues the Bill raises and how they really affect people, men and women.
How else would a legislator hailing from Teso region say she was not in support of the section of the Bill that tampers with dowry, beccause, apparently, it would be tampering with an important aspect of their traditions? If she had bothered to find out how her people back home truely felt about some such traditions, she probably would have discovered, in her same region, the likes of Grace Apio, and Akello.
These two women, as narrated in their life stories on Page three, represent the core of the community who have suffered at the hands of these practices that those far away from their brunt are fighting to preserve. Even in their scanty knowledge of what happens in the far lands where such laws as the Bill are crafted, these women know that such regulations would be their only hope from these practices that have oppressed them for so long.
If Madam Legislator had bothered to consult with her people, she would find that even the old people like 78-year-old Eriya Opolot, considered custodians of these traditions, are looking to this law to deliver them from a life of constantly looking over their shoulders, waiting for a police officer to lock them up for the dowry never refunded after their daughters flee from their drunken husbands and the indignity of being passed on amongst brothers-in-law as if they were a piece of furniture.
So this week, we have taken the trouble to seek out and put faces to the issues in the Bill. For those of us that argue about them without any idea how they affect us, or those who think it is not your business, Apio and Akello could be one of the women in your life in future, facing the possibility of widow inheritance. We bring to you the faces on the Bill too, to educate, in the simplest terms possible, about what this Bill is really about, what it seeks to address and who it seeks to benefit. We bring you the usual issues about the Bill, yes, but this time, give them a human face.
For our main feature, we look up Karitas Karisimbi. That smiley girl who we woke up to one day find taking our TV screens by storm. She is still smiley, and beautiful, but so much more has happened over the last three or so years she has been out of sight, and we tell you about that. Enjoy!