Kole reaps big from separating couples

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KOLE-In December 2012, Polly Adong from Anyongo-ogengo village, Bala Parish in Bala Sub-county, was allegedly killed by her husband following a domestic brawl.
Trouble reportedly started when the victim asked for permission to sell the only goat in the family to clear their daughter’s school fees.

The man seemed to grant her request but no sooner had she untied the goat from the backyard than the husband stood up in fury.
He snatched the goat from his wife, held it by its legs and allegedly used it to flog her repeatedly into coma.

Following the ugly incident, former Bala Sub-county chairman, Mr Caesar Alajo, and current Kole County South Member of Parliament Peter Ocen, then rushed Adong to Lira Hospital for medical attention.
Five months later, the woman passed on, leaving behind five children, including an eight-month-old baby.

The matter was then reported to Agege Police Post under case file reference SD 06/31/10/2012.

To date, the suspect’s whereabouts remain unknown, according to the police. The man reportedly fled soon after his wife collapsed and has never returned home.
In 2014, a housewife in Alito Sub-county allegedly killed her husband, whom she accused of failing to buy for the family meat and clothes for Uganda’s October 9 Independence Day celebrations.
In 2016, two women suspected of killing their husband on April 1, of the same year at Ilera Parish in Ayer Sub-county, surrendered to police.

According to Kole officer in charge of criminal investigations department Sam Obua, the suspects turned themselves in at Apii Police Post and were transferred to Kole Central Police Station.
Police records indicate that 155 cases comprising physical assault against women and domestic violence were reported from January to September in 2012 in Kole District.
The police report that this newspaper has seen, also indicated that 335 cases comprising domestic violence, aggravated and minor assaults against women were reported from January to December 2011 in the district, a move police said calls for enforcement of the Domestic Violence Act.

Separation cards
Today, many women in Kole who find themselves in abusive relationships have resorted to deserting their marriages.
In fact, hundreds have already been issued with separation cards by the local authorities.

Authorities say when their clients approach them for such services, they respond without hesitation. But the services are not free as one has to dig deep into their wallets to meet the cost of separation.
In Bala Sub-county, separation card is issued after a client agrees to pay Shs100,000, according to the sub-county chairperson, Mr John Oculi.
“On average, my sub-county issues one separation card in a month and we treat separation as a source of local revenue,” Mr Oculi says.
“However, it’s not rampant because we always advise them (parties) that separation is bad; it makes innocent children to suffer.”

But to many, the separation card is equivalent to a divorce certificate which is only granted by a competent court of law.

Divorce
Court grants divorce in two stages; if the court is satisfied that the conduct or offence complained of has been proved, it will give the first order for divorce.
The court also makes an order regarding how the party is to be separated, and who is to have custody of the children and can order either the husband or wife to pay a certain sum of money towards the maintenance of the other until he or she dies or remarries.
Today, women in Kole are issued with separation cards after fulfilling the requirements.

It’s the receipt-like card which they show to their husbands to prove that “it’s over between us. Go your way; I will also go my way.”
Recently, Mr Peter Odyek, the Kole District probation officer, reportedly told members of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association that about 53 people file intention to divorce on a monthly basis in the entire district.
But separation does not end a marriage. So during separation the parties are still considered to be husband and wife and cannot remarry.

Therefore, it is illegal for a husband or wife to get sexually involved with another woman or man during separation. Local leaders now use revenue generated from separation for paying staff and councillors’ allowances.
Alito Sub-county that has been at the epicentre of the conflict perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency is said to be leading in separation and domestic violence.
Separation is a situation where a husband and wife stay away from each other for a given period. The parties agree on custody and maintenance of children and maintenance of either party. At the end of the agreed period, the parties may either get back together or initiate divorce proceedings.
And divorce is the dissolution or termination of a marriage. It only applies to legally and recognised marriages.
The procedures of divorce depend on the form of marriage that the parties contracted.

Action Against Violence, a local community-based organisation operating in Bala Sub-county, describes the plight of women in Kole as pathetic.
Tradition and culture dictates certain things against women and gives more to a man, forgetting the fact they are all human beings.

Attacked
Critics say because separation has become a source of local revenue, authorities could be encouraging it in the area.
“The rate of separation wouldn’t be as high as it is now. Since the local governments are under funded by the central government, they now tend to look at the alternatives – the available opportunities for them to get revenue locally – to sustain their programmes,” says Mr Caesar Alajo.

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