Human rights activist Gift Trapence of the Centre for Development of People (Cedep) has appealed to President Peter Mutharika not to rush in assenting to e Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill, into law, saying the bill has all good intentions only that it has been spoiled by some discriminatory aspects.
He cited the discriminatory aspects such as impotency and infecting your spouse with a Sexually Transmitted Disease as grounds for marriage dissolution.
Trapence said the bill “needs to be rectified “before the President assents to it
The new bill, in section 77(1), states that the grounds for nullification of marriage may be “that the respondent (the one sued) was permanently impotent at the time of Marriage” or “that the respondent was at the time of the marriage suffering from a sexually transmitted infection”
Lawyer Felisah Kilembe has however defended the marriage and divorce law.
“For example, on the issue of (Sexual Transmitted Infections) STIs, (or impotency) the marriage will only be annulled if
the petitioner was not aware that the respondent had the STI or was permanently impotent at the time of marriage and the proceedings must be brought up within one year of marriage.
“This in a way protects innocent parties from unscrupulous people who may enter into Marriage without declaring their health status to the detriment of the other party.
“At the same time, it protects the rights of those with STIs because the courts will not entertain any annulment of marriage on this ground if the petitioner was aware of the facts and also if the proceedings are not brought within one year of the marriage (as stipulated in the law)”
Critics argue that there are many mistakes in the Bill because it lacks the commonality required of national legislation, saying where the law states that women can divorce their husbands on the ground of impotency “a scientific definition of impotency must be provided so that there is agreed upon benchmark.”
Further, critics say research has shown that marital coercion affects the women more than the men. This is because most women are still largely dependent on the men for their livelihood.
Some fear if the President will assent the bill into law in its current form, it will provide a great opportunity for more individuals to become “sexually independent” and that there will not be commitment in relationships.
As a consequence, men will consort more with men and women with women because of complex social implications of heterogeneous relationships.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :