Uganda: Muslims Disagree Over Marriage Age

Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Kampala, Uganda - Muslims are split over the right marriage age to be included in the new proposed family legislation.

Although some Muslims support 18 years as provided in the Constitution, others insist that the benchmarks provided under the Islamic law should be considered.

Under the Islamic doctrine, a girl is considered an adult following her first period and is eligible for marriage and sexual relations.

But emerging details from a Friday's stakeholders' consultative workshop on the draft "Administration of Muslim Law Bill, 2007" held at Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) headquarters indicate that the age of consent sharply divided participants.

The new Muslim Bill is a parallel legislation to the government's Domestic Relations Bill seeking to harmonise family relations in the country.

"Much as we can't force a girl to marry, this issue should indeed be looked at with the sensitivity it deserves," said a sheikh in Kampala who preferred not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.