Deputy Speaker Tayebwa demands government action as DNA tests threaten marriages

Towards the end of June, 2023, mainstream media in Uganda was awash with stories on the revelations by the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) revealing how 32 men who had written demanding cancellation of children’s passports after getting negative DNA tests.

According to Simon Peter Mundeyi, the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, these men wanted to cancel the passports of the unnamed children after DNA results revealed that they were not the biological fathers.

Currently, debate on whether men should conduct DNA tests on their children to confirm paternity has dominated the social media channels. There have also been reports of separations between some couples after it is revealed that the men were not the biological fathers of some of the children in the families.

There have also been a number of videos circulating on social media where men are denouncing the children whom they have been bringing up hence asking their mothers to name the rightful biological fathers. The current spate of negative DNA results is putting pressure on women as society is slowly attributing the increase in cases of promiscuity in the country.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa having got concerned with the number of men conducting DNA tests to ascertain the paternity of their children posing a threat to the families in the country.

Tayebwa argued for the government to quickly address the mixed reactions surrounding the rampant DNA tests to make sure such processes are not dodged with forgeries and also resulting into violence.

“Prime Minister, as government, you need to come out and guide the nation because what is going on, innocent children are falling victim. You don’t know what your parents were doing, all of a sudden someone says ‘stop using my name, bring back your national ID’” Tayebwa said.

To the men, the Deputy Speaker also asked them to trade with caution because some of them may be targeting their wives for allegedly secretly giving birth to other men under their roofs. He said that some men are also having secret children that are being taken care of by others elsewhere.

“But also men who are out there, by the time you go out there to make a test for 16 children, it means you also have your own issues. You may find that someone is also looking after your own children somewhere” he added.

The Minister for Information and National Guidance, Dr Chris Baryomunsi told Parliament that the Ministry of Health planning to assess all the laboratories that are conducting DNA tests in the country in order to evaluate the accuracy of the results they are giving out.

He said that there have been reports of men committing suicide after learning that the children they have invested in are actually not theirs.

“I don’t know what is motivating men to rush for DNA because it has become another pandemic. I have held a discussion with the Minister of Health and we said though we cannot stop anyone from doing DNA, we have to look at the issue of the results” said Dr Baryomunsi.

Napak District woman Member of Parliament, Faith Nakut suggested that the government should  categorise DNA tests among the restricted tests so that whoever wants to carry out one must first secure a Court Order.

She said that government needs to come out clearly with a plan of resolving the conflicts that are arising following the release of DNA results.

“We want to save the mental health of our children and the men who are committing suicide. It is not adding value to the economy. We acknowledge that it (DNA) has to be done but it has to be done with guidance. There are people who are now faking results in Uganda in order to malign women, to spoilt their names and reject the children that they are supposed to cater for” added Nakut.

Lower Madi County MP, Ronald Afidra warned men to go slow on DNA tests because women who have been looking after children produced by their husbands outside the wedlock may be neglected. He said that much as men want to carry out DNA tests on their children, it is important that they consider what women also go through when they receive children of their husbands from other women.

The Deputy Speaker also warned that if the government does not regulate the operations of the laboratories where DNA tests are conducted, the process will easily be abused by unsuspected Ugandans setting up fake laboratories that will in turn issue fake results.

He directed that the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja should table a statement on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday next week so that the nation is guided on where and how to conduct DNA tests.

Ugandans have been arguing for men to ignore the lure for DNA tests because if they don’t suffer heart attacks due to negative results or may cause violence in families when results turn out to be positive hence leaving women to rue cases of mistrust from their husbands.

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