By Taddeo Bwambale
The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr Cyprian Lwanga has asked Members of Parliament to consult widely before passing the Marriage and Divorce Bill, 2009.
The Bill, among several issues of contention, recognises cohabitation as marriage if couples have lived together for ten years, a position the church views as immoral and sinful.
The other contentious issues in the Bill include the abolition of payment of bride price, due to concerns that it reduces women to “sellable objects”.
The Bill, which has divided the House, has been on the shelves of Parlaiment for over forty years. It was split into two after the first such Bill was opposed religious leaders.
Initially, it was presented to Parliament as the Domestic Relatiosn Bill but stalled for many years becasue it was widely contested by different interest groups.
It was split into separate groups, namely, the Marriage and Divorce Bill, and the Muslim Personal Bill.
Activists supporting the tabled law have asked that Parliament passes it quickly to stem the rampant cases of violence against women.
But Lwanga warned that passing it in haste would likely present Ugandans with a law that may not benefit them.
“There is no need to rush. Parliament needs more time to carry out consultations among all the stakeholders, including religious leaders,” Lwanga stated.
“MPs should also find time to consult their electorate to seek their views on aspects of the proposed so that it benefits everyone.”
Lwanga was speaking to journalists shortly after the closure of the International Women’s Day of Prayer celebrations held, at Rubaga Cathedral on Friday.
He observed that a good law would help to guarantee their rights and protect them against violence.
“Women are our mothers, but what is happening to them is disheartening. They are victims of domestic violence and poverty,” he said.
The clergyman, however, urged women to respect motherhood by shunning immoral acts such as prostitution, and appealed to them to raise their children to be responsible citizens.