Museveni supports marriage Bill
Posted Saturday, March 16 2013 at 02:00
According to Ms Betty Amongi, the chairperson of women MPs, the President agreed that cohabitation be left out of the Bill.
President Museveni has supported the Marriage and Divorce Bill, but made proposals for amendments to some of the controversial clauses. Mr Museveni met women MPs at his home in Rwakitura to seek common ground on the controversial clauses in the Bill ahead of the final debate in Parliament.
Among the controversial clauses is the non-refund of bride price, criminalising forced conjugal rights and cohabitation. According to Ms Betty Amongi, the chairperson of women MPs, who is also Oyam South MP, Mr Museveni agreed that cohabitation be left out of the Bill, “because he had already analysed some cultures and such a provision can cause disharmony among the people.”
Among the proposals made by the President was that MPs should put grounds for refund of bride price after a marriage has failed to work out. He is said to have made three propositions for consideration by the female MPs- which they also agreed to.
Ms Amongi, however, declined to delve into the three grounds proposed by the President. “He asked us to bring on some factors to have bride price refunded, and we agreed but they are only three grounds- not all cases,” she said.
At the start of the debate on the Bill, MPs voted to ban widow inheritance, and made it an offence for a spouse to demand for a refund of bride price. The Bill renders bride price non-refundable except in those three grounds proposed by the President. The women had demanded that bride price, which they said had been commercialised, be banned since it put women at the risk of being battered by their husbands who regarded them as property.
Ms Amongi, however, said the President supported criminalising marital rape, and also called it an abuse of women’s rights. “How do you force a woman and disorganise her system? This is criminal,” Mr Museveni is said to have told the MPs.
Clause 114(2) of the Bill provides that a spouse has a right to deny his or her partner sex, where forceful sex results into both criminal and civil liabilities. Ms, Amongi, however said the President agreed with the women that the final provision of the clause on sex providing physical and psychological harm be left out- which they agreed on.
Mr Museveni also asked the MPs to consult further- as he also consults the traditional leaders, religious leaders and other stakeholders so that they come out with an all acceptable piece of legislation.
The Marriage and Divorce Bill, which has been shelved for the last 47 years, returns with a bang- seeking to regulate marriages, divorce and property ownership between spouses. It is currently at committee stage in Parliament with some of the clauses already considered.