Man Talk: Should there be legislation on intimate issues like marriage?
Posted Saturday, March 23 2013 at 00:00
I do not think it is fine to legislate on issues where God’s stand has already been made clear. Marriage is sanctified, cohabitation is not marriage. In Kenya, they had an almost similar law but realised people would “get out” of the “marriage” arrangement before the years clock so it was not helping. I’m a little liberal on some things. If a woman has lost her husband, she should have the right to choose which man she will be with after that. Therefore, widow inheritance is a No!
I do not really mind dowry as long as it is not used as the valuation of the woman but is just taken as a cultural norm that may or may not be fulfilled just to thank the parents. And as such, I would find it curious if a man asked for the dowry he paid to be returned upon annulment of the marriage.
The Bill has its critics, but I think the country should not be detracted from the wealth of good in it. Generally, I believe progressive people should be happy if the rights of couples can be enshrined in the national Constitution. Largely, this is what the Bill seeks to do; bring about some sort of parity where people are not mistreated just because of their gender. It is one thing to stand against a law that will jeopardise the religious sensibilities of many people but it is another thing to realise that these same beliefs are propagating violence and degradation and the treatment of human beings as chattels. Would this law help people in abusive relationships, loveless relationships, dead-in-the-water liaisons that have long lost their value? I say yes. The Bill needs to be passed. It is true it has been debated by all parties that seem to have special interests.
From a legal perspective, it is clear they are trying to promote women’s rights and reduce domestic violence, among other things. However, I got disturbed when I thought of marriage from the sacred and traditional perspectives. There are some clauses that seem quite vague. How do you divorce from cohabitation which is not even a marriage? How does the Bill then talk about rights of such people that are not recognised in our laws?
Then, it talks about contractual marriage! This only makes commercial! As it struggles to guarantee equal rights for either parties, it should also preserve the true objective of a marriage, as a domestic relationship and not reduce it to just any other business arrangement.
I think the Bill thing goes two ways. On the positive, it tries to make sense of the marriage politics and entanglements that result. That is a good thing. But on the other hand, human relations especially those based on emtions and “love” do not run by any given set of rules. Trying to create a formula only makes it mechanical and a business arrangement rather than finding a soul mate. I do not anticipate much success with that.
For the sake of debate, when is the last time you attended a wedding of someone who has not been to university? How many colleagues do you know are staying together and do not intend to marry?
You realise that the girls that get married are fewer than the ones that will ever make it to the altar, right? In a tradition like Uganda’s where women think marriage is a gift to them from the men, how do you protect the thousands in peri-urban and rural areas who will never get to the altar?
The university graduate woman who gets married may not constitute the majority of those who need this law because she is empowered to take care of herself. It is rather the ones cohabiting because the social setting has not empowered them beyond that.