KAMPALA. Child activists have challenged Members of Parliament (MPs) to repel the Marriage and Divorce Bill to cater for children’s rights.
Speaking at Joy For Children Uganda (JFC-U)’s workshop organised to deliberate on Marriage Bill status, activists for rights of children, said the Bill does not clearly explain the fate of children who are always the most victimized when a divorce or separation happens.
Mr Moses Ntenga, JFC-U Executive Director, said the Bill needs to be repelled if children are to be protected from consequences that usually arise when a couple part ways.
“I can say the entire Bill speaks about husband and wife but shy on children. For instance matrimonial rights and obligations article talks about rights to receive the deceased spouse social security and pension benefits. Children are treated like any other business. We need provisions that secure children in this Bill,” Mr Ntenga said.
Mr Ntenga explained that uncertainty often lingers on children once their parents divorce; a reason they need to be protected. He said whether the children stay with their father or go with their mother, they definitely feel unhappy.
“Children cannot live comfortably with one parent. It becomes worse when a divorce comes with a financial impact on either side. In a divorce, a war is between a man and wife but children are speechless victims. That is why we need clauses that clearly defend them in this Bill,” Mr Ntenga said.
The Marriage and Divorce Bill was tabled in 2013 by the ninth parliament and it caused a political storm across the country. Religious leaders termed it as intended to break marriages rather than protecting them. The Bill was shelved after only 23 out of close to 200 articles were debated on the floor of parliament.
Kasambya County MP, Gafabusa Mbwatekamwa and the Mitooma District Woman MP, Jovah Kamateeka, agreed that the current status of the Bill does clearly capture children’s rights in case of a divorce.
“We are going to engage the justice ministry to ensure that this Bill does not seem to be only catering for women and men. We want the Bill to be for all Ugandans regardless of their race, culture and sex,” Mr Mbwatekamwa said.
Ms Kamateeka said she would raise a question on floor of parliament to ensure that the justice ministry gives an account of the status of Bill and when amendments are going to be done.