By Henry Sekanjako and Joyce Namutebi
Women activist Miria Matembe has told off religious leaders not to waste time decampaigning the marriage and divorce Bill, and concentrate on mobilizing people that are not married to marry.
"It is not the role of religious leaders to pass laws of protection of human rights, it is government's responsibility. Religious leaders should not waste our time calling for more consultations on the Bill, they should go and mobilize those who are not married to marry," said Matembe.
Her remarks follow a petition to parliament by church leaders expressing objection to the consideration of the marriage and divorce Bill 2009 until further consultations are concluded.
In their letter signed by different faiths such as the church of Uganda, Catholic Church, Orthodox, Seventh day Adventist, National association of born again Pentecostal churches, they noted with disappointment that the present marriage and divorce Bill that is currently on committee stage in parliament falls short of minimum requirements of a good marriage law.
However the former Ethic and integrity minister Matembe says, enough consultations on most of the contentious clauses on the Bill had been carried out with different stake holders including religious leaders adding that calling for more consultations was aimed at further staying of the Bill.
Matembe blamed church leaders for the increasing number of cohabitating couples in the country saying the church has failed to convince Ugandans to embrace church marriage.
"You didn't spread your message on marriage properly, people slept over it .You should mobilize all those cohabitating to wed," added Matembe.
She made the remarks on Wednesday in an interview with journalists over the marriage and divorce bill at parliamentary building Kampala.
Matembe explained that cohabitation was a serious issue in the country and the world at large which cannot be under looked saying it was a reality.
"I am married and not about to divorce, but I have relatives, friends that are cohabitating, and religious leaders are calling this a sin, I am not defending wrong doers but I am looking at reality, people are cohabitating because they are finding marriage very expensive," she noted.
Matembe who is in full support of the Bill, said couples should be allowed to share property upon dissolution of their relationship. "Why should you just let me walk away without anything when I married you while I was still looking young and beautiful," asked Matembe.
She called for the urgent consideration of the Bill saying it had been shelved for a long time. The Bill has however continued to face stiff resistance especially from religious leaders and among other stakeholders.