By Mirembe Martina
The parliament of Uganda yesterday approved a bill which banned bride price refund and allows for a couple to share property once divorced.
Previously, when a woman and man split up, the man would demand for the bride price refund from the girl’s family saying she had left. As a result, many women stayed in marriages even when they were not happy fearing that the man would ask back the bride price from her parents yet they had no money.
Among other things voted upon were the law to ban widow inheritance. The Marriage and Divorce Bill stalled since 1960 and the Speaker decided it was time to vote upon it. The decision was not received well by other MPs who walked out of parliament, angry. Clause 13 of the Bill, which was unanimously adopted yesterday, now makes it an offence to marry a widow through the practice of inheritance without her consent.
The law now makes bride price non-refundable. Women activists had demanded that bride price, which they said had been commercialised, should be banned since it put women at the risk of being battered by their husbands who regarded them as property.
However, cohabiting was not considered and will be voted upon. Some MPs were seeking that after a certain period of cohabiting, a couple be known as married, something that was met with a lot of denial. Ms Alice Alaso (Serere women) and Mariam Nalubega (Gomba) backed their colleagues saying cohabitation is not a recognised form of marriage.