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“How will Uganda implement the mini-skirt bill?”
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“How will Uganda implement the mini-skirt bill?”

Ronald OchooUganda’s government is considering a ban on the mini-skirt, but Ronald Ochoo, a Correspondent from Kampala in Uganda, wonders how that law will be supported by the public and enforced by authorities. 

On a sunny Wednesday, waking up to Facebook wall updates, they all stated the same thing – a mini skirt law in Uganda, to follow the aborted Marriage and Divorce Bill.

Just as one might have thought that the parliamentarians having been “offered” five million shillings each by the government to do research for the Marriage and Divorce Bill would not shock the nation with another bill, the mini-skirt or ‘Anti-Pornography’ bill was already waiting their response.

The Marriage and Divorce bill caused a lot of controversy, with even the religious leaders strongly opposing it. Some politicians and church leaders associated it with cultures from the west that allegedly want to break the family bonds in Africa. The bill was eventually suspended following a heated debated that divided the House.

Unlike the Marriage and Divorce Bill, the Anti-Pornography Bill got heat from people wondering how the government would implement such a bill. Of all its clauses, the population concentrated on the one stating that wearing mini skirts amounts to pornography. Some people feel this is against their human rights, and that should be a ground to oppose this bill.

Going to the root of the bill and the person who tabled it in parliament, it should be noted that this was first tabled by the Ex-Ethics and Integrity Minister Mr.Nsaba Buturo. He lost the initial battle to parliament, and with a number of pressing issues coming up the bill was shunted aside for time and concentration on other matters of concern.

Just as he quit, his successor of three years felt obliged to re-table this bill. Thus Fr.Lukodo tabled the bill that saw the nation go wild about how one would determine what another ought to have worn. It should be noted that the eradication of mini-skirt was established during the reign of the late President Idi Amin, who supported sharia law being established in Uganda. That introduced women to wearing long skirts that reached the feet, with the intent to ensure decency in society. In the wake of his exit, Ugandans slowly but surely reverted to wearing what suited them in the new era of President Museveni, where the public looked for broader human rights.

One wonders how the mini-skirt bill will be implemented. From experience, many a law is passed in the legislature, but the implementation bit of it becomes the biggest problem. Looking at the mini-skirt bill, one wonders whether there will be policemen at every homestead when policing is already a stretched human resource. How will you determine that wearing a mini-skirt is a violation of the laws? And if so, then what is the use of the right to self-expression provided for in the constitution of the country? Does it still remain supreme, and won’t that only lead to many lawsuits against the state, or the law and justice department? Many questions can be asked and eye brows raised, but the answers to these questions are best found with the people tabling this bill.

It’s one thing to be a student of law and another to be the one tabling laws. At this point I am tabling my views not as a student of law, but rather as any lay Ugandan citizen would have looked at that bill. One wonders why Uganda, being one of the countries with very tough laws, is so lacking in implementing these laws. I will answer that: implementation of a law comes with the people’s willingness to be obliged to the laws. I for one may not know how it would feel to propose a law and see it being left to society to decide its fate, but I would worry about that.

Let the people decide. Just as they vote to be represented, their fate lies in the hands of those whom they entrusted to represent them in the august house. They should hold them accountable.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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photo credit: jlmaral via photopin cc

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