By Ronald Kabuye
After rethinking the constraversial marriage and divorce bill MAD bill, the uganda law reform commission has come up with the marriage bill 2017 were Cohabitation has been totally removed from the Bill and several constraversial articles changed.
“Cohabitation has been removed from the Bill and proposed bill has drafted to provide for the property rights of persons in cohabitation as it is not a recognised form of marriage in a separate piece of legislation. It is not exhaustive of all
matters to do with cohabitation. It will merit further study.” reads the report in parts
The changes were informed by the need to make certainty in legislation, clarity, arranging the bill and predictability.
Though in the new bill, cohabitation will not be considered but the issue of property will be handled separately unlike in the old MAD bill were both were cohabitation and property were both handled together at the time of separation and divorce.
The bill has also excluded the ancestral property as part of matrimonial property. under customary marriage bride price will be optional not mandatory and before it is done it must be publicized and an intention to marry must be issued with the perish Chief as its the case with other types of marriages.
A new clause on pre nuptial agreement has been introduced for parties who mighty be interested in defining their property rights at the time of marriage.
The women movement spearheaded by the uganda women network UWONET has supported the changes.
Uwonet executive director Rita Aciro Lokor has thus appealed to the minister of justice to ensure that the process and due cause is taken to have the act in place
“I think the law reform commission took in consideration the views of the people and we hope, that minister of justice would look at this bill and ensure that the process and due course is taken to have the MAD bill amended so that we have this act in place” said Aciro.
Meanwhile must of the women we spoke to were against the removal of cohabitation as form of marriage from the bill, saying that it’s going to leave many with no bargain power at the time of divorce despite their contribution to the family though they welcomed the other changes in the bill.
Unlike the women, the men we spoke to welcomed the removal of cohabitation and making of bride price optional hence welcoming the bill.
The marriage and divorce bill has dragged on for now more than 50 years despite it’s coming in different forms it has always met resistance from both public and legislators thus shelving it.
By Ronald Kabuye