Opendi to introduce marriage Bill

Ms Sarah Opendi. The former Minister of State for Health in-charge of General Duties is the sponsor of the new Bill. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • She says the Bill will provide for the types of recognised marriages in the country, marital rights and duties.

Tororo District Woman Member of Parliament Sarah Opendi is set to introduce the Marriage Bill, 2022, which seeks to reform and consolidate the laws relating to marriage, separation and divorce. 

She said this Bill will also provide for the types of recognised marriages in the country, marital rights and duties.

Speaking to the media during a consultative meeting with MPs and FIDA Uganda on Monday, Ms Opendi said they have a final draft and they are seeking the certificate of financial implications before the Bill is presented to Parliament.

“We are going to have a final draft. I should be able to present this Bill for the first reading in Parliament in the next one or two months. Marriage takes place in communities but most of the marriages are not registered. We want to have formal registration of all marriages. The Bill intends to create order in the society and also ensure that marriage takes place in an organised way,” Ms Opendi said.


She added that the Bill specifically deals with marriage as required by Article 31(3) of the Constitution, forms of marriage, solemnisation of marriage, prohibited degrees of relations for marriage, conditions for polygamy, and marriage gifts, among other elements.

“People should give notice and have these marriages registered at the sub-county level. We want to ensure that the marriage laws in the country are in line with the 1995 Constitution. Most of these laws were enacted more than 100 years ago,” she said.

Ms Opendi said the Bill also guides the spouses on how to agree on property owned by both and those individually owned.

“In a marriage, people have rights and I know sometimes people think of property. We don’t want to see people separating but we cannot stop it because it happens, she said:

Ms Opendi further said: “We want to ensure that the rights of parties are well protected. If there is dissolution of the marriage, there must be a mutual agreement on how to divide property but separation should not come easily. It must be through mutual consent or after some period of time,” she added.

Stakeholders speak out

Ms Elizabeth Kemigisha, the advocacy manager of FIDA Uganda, appealed to MPS to revise the Bill regarding separation, ownership and division of property to avoid domestic violence. 

“Issues on the breakdown of marriage, the Bill speaks strongly about the process and what requirements are important for one to present for someone to get a divorce or separation. We know that, currently, it has been proposed that you cannot petition for a divorce in the first one year,” Ms Kemigisha said.

She added that the period of one year is a long time noting that they are registering cases of women and men getting into marriages and after a few months they are actually not working.

On separation and divorce

“Couples should be allowed to separate if they have valid reasons as to why they are not working. Putting a cap of one year or two years will limit us from getting away from marriages which are not working,” she said.

Ms Kemigisha added: “We have seen evidence that it actually affects women more because most times they are forced to stay in marriages that are not working because they do not want to be asked to return bridal gifts.”