Paternity testing in Uganda sparks a heated debate.

Paternity testing in Uganda sparks a heated debate.

 

There have been reports of a significant rise in the number of males in Uganda requesting paternity testing, and as a result, there is a rising concern that this trend might result in the dissolution of families and leave children with psychological trauma.

 

Since a tabloid newspaper published a story claiming that a well-known business tycoon who had several wives and mistresses had a row with one of his spouses, which prompted him to request paternity tests that reportedly said he was the biological father of only 15 of his 25 children, the issue has been a hot topic of debate in the country.

 

The tycoon and his family have never made a statement in the public domain, and the claim has not been confirmed by an independent source.

 

The tale, however, spread like wildfire and has been the source of a significant amount of controversy over the last several months. As a result, some MPs felt compelled to make an emotional plea to males, urging them to stop placing the strain of exams on their families and children.

 

Let us conduct our lives in the same manner that our ancestors did. “The kid born in the home is your child,” Legislator Sarah Opendi remarked in the home of Representatives. Although she did qualify her comment by adding that if a guy wanted a paternity test, it should be done when a kid is born rather than after they are grown up, she maintained that it should be done at the time of birth.

 

The most disturbing aspect of this story is that it was claimed in a publication that is privately owned that testing had caused domestic violence. According to the story, police in Uganda arrested an Israeli resident who was residing there for allegedly murdering his wife after DNA results proved that he was not the father of his six-month-old kid. There are no formal charges against the individual at this time.

 

Midway through the month of July, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs named Simon Mundeyi said that there had been a significant rise in the number of requests for testing. These tests involve the collection of DNA from both the father and the kid.

 

“At our government laboratory, we used to get, on a daily basis, an average of ten applications. He went on to say that “we are now averaging 100 every day” and that “the numbers are still continuing to increase.”

 

In addition, private clinics capitalised on the trend by advertising the availability of testing by posting ads on the back of cabs and on billboards.

 

 

DNA testing at private health clinics is coming under more scrutiny from the government.

This gave rise to the worry that the findings would turn out to be inaccurate, particularly when it became public knowledge that possibly phoney testing kits had been smuggled into Uganda.

 

Although the director of public health, Daniel Kyabayinze, said that there was more social media buzz than a rise in testing, the Ministry of Health moved in to limit testing to only three state-run facilities.

 

Despite this, measures were being made to guarantee that families would be provided with counselling and psychological assistance after the completion of the tests.

 

“We have seen posts and comments on social media from individuals who believe paternity testing is upsetting to families and may lead to gender-based violence. According to what Dr Kyabayinze said to the BBC, “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen because of the result which is provided.”

 

The controversy that has been raging across Uganda – from bars to Parliament, taxis to Twitter, now known as X – has elicited differing points of view from the general public.

 

Bwette Brian, a resident of Kampala, provided the following statement to the BBC in which he voiced his support for the testing: “I believe the father has the right to know if the children are his or not.” Every youngster, regardless of their attachment, should be aware of the family to which they belong.

 

Tracy Nakubulwa, a citizen who disagrees with the above statement, said that she has seen “happy marriages and families dissolve all due to the problem of paternity testing, and children are becoming victims.”

 

Lindsey Kukunda, an activist for human rights, said that it is “not new” for women to discreetly establish a connection with another guy in order to give their husbands a child via an extramarital affair.

 

She explained that our forefathers, grandparents, and moms had all done the same thing before them.

 

She makes the observation that in situations when a couple has trouble conceiving a child, it is often the guy who suffers from fertility issues, but “in African society, if a woman can’t give a man with children, she will be divorced or thrown out of the family.”

 

“So what these guys don’t comprehend is that the lady who has given them with children has slept with another man in order to give you the kid you want,” she said. “So what this means is that the child you desire was born to another man.”

 

Ms Kukunda implied that spouses who requested paternity testing were hypocritical for doing so.

 

“It is quite normal for men to have extramarital relationships and bring children home with them,” she added. “However, the spouses nurture these children as if they were their own.”

 

The majority of Uganda’s paternity tests establish a biological connection between the alleged dads and their offspring.

According to the microbiologist Freddie Bwanga, who works at the state laboratory, there has not been a significant rise in the number of requests for testing; nonetheless, there is now higher awareness of the problem.

 

His expertise over the years demonstrates that between sixty and seventy per cent of tests reveal a biological relationship between the father and the kid.

 

The results showed that “supporting children to be established where they are born” was typically a positive consequence for the 30–40% of participants who discovered that they were not.

 

In addition, there are others who believe that testing is preferable to depending on age-old cultural practises, such as rubbing cow fat on the umbilical cord and then placing it in a woven basket that is filled with water.

 

According to a cultural scholar who spoke with the Ugandan Monitor newspaper, the fact that the ball thereafter floats indicates that the kid was a member of the family.

 

However, the state minister for basic health care in Uganda said that there was no need for males to undergo paternity testing.

 

“There is nothing that can kill you that you don’t know about. If you don’t realise that this is not your kid, it won’t make your heart hurt as much as it otherwise would. “But when you find out, it’s going to break your heart,” Margaret Muhanga added.

 

 

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