RE: “Activists weigh in on proposed Penal Code” (The New Times, November 14).
Cohabitation is when two consenting unmarried or divorced adults of opposite sex decide to live together without being legally or religiously married. This should not be confused with adultery, which is a voluntary sexual relationship between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.
Abandoning your legal wife and living with another woman does not fall, in my view, within the definition if cohabitation. Cohabitation as it is known (not as stated above) is accepted in the majority of countries worldwide with the exception of perhaps Saudi Arabia.
I therefore do not understand how cohabitation can be more serious than simple adultery as stated by Alice Uwimbabazi (of Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe, a women pressure group). Adultery is a breach of a civil contract between two married people whereas, worldwide, there is no crime or breach committed if two consenting adults decide to live together.
Any revision to the penal or civil codes should take into account that we are in the 21st century and should cater for the interests of various age groups. We adults cannot impose on the younger generations the kind of society values that shaped our behaviour and upbringing half a century ago.
When I was growing up, I used to hear about horrible things that happened in the past. One such thing that terrified me was the “Urwobo rwa Bayanga”—a pit where they used to throw pregnant (out of wedlock) teenage girls. This happened long before I was born but it is one of the stories I will never forget.
Any amendment to the penal or civil codes should be guided by what is fair and legal to everyone. Such amendment should never be guided by anyone’s cultural conservatism. Laws should be progressive and not regressive.