A Sweet Victory for One Woman as She Regains Her Marital Home
64 year-old Tezera Obbo does not take for granted the fact that at the end of every day, she retires to her matrimonial home; a simple two bedroomed house in Kirombe village, Luzira where she has lived with her husband and 16 children since 1989. Until May 2014 when she won a suit against her husband, Tezera could not comfortably inhabit her house or even claim ownership to it.
She describes the experience as a long and torturous one but also maintains that it makes her victory even sweeter. “After suffering for so long, you can’t imagine how overjoyed I am to have won the case and sleep in my home comfortably”
Tezera and her husband supported their family by laying bricks, the earnings from which enabled them to purchase land in the area and construct 2 houses. Tezera also independently constructed a separate 2 roomed house which she rented for more income.
One of the 2 houses they constructed together was given to her step children to inhabit and the other became their marital home. She says that the family lived a generally peaceful life until 2011 when her husband started talking of moving back to their ancestral home in Tororo. “He was adamant and would not abandon the idea of moving to Tororo even though our younger children were still in secondary school and needed to be within Kampala.” Tezera recalls. They quarrelled over the matter frequently but continued to live in the home.
Once on return from a visit to Tororo, her husband introduced her to a woman he claimed now owned their land and that they were to vacate within the following two months which she protested. Her husband turned violent; “the man became so rude and in anger one day unhinged the doors and windows from the house in a bid to force us to leave our home; he then disconnected the electricity by cutting the electric wires but my children and I had nowhere to go so even then I refused to leave.” Tezera sought the help of the local authorities. They counselled her husband that the house was marital property which could not be sold without both partners’ consent. When that failed, they forwarded her case to The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA) for legal assistance. With the help of FIDA, Tezera won a suit against her husband and the new owner who had already paid for the house. “At FIDA, I was assigned my own lawyer who has supported me from the beginning in 2011 to 2014 when I won this case” Tezera says.
Despite the long wait for victory, Tezera is grateful for the experience and adds that her once malicious husband wants to reconcile. She has become something of a role model in her community and is often consulted by younger women on how to resolve marital problems.
FIDA’s core work is centered on using the law to promote the human rights and the inherent dignity of women and children. FIDA, which works in 14 districts in Uganda is supported by DGF (in 5 districts) to improve access to justice for women and children through court representation, strategic litigation, community outreach, capacity building for the informal adjudication mechanisms and documentation of lessons learnt for purposes of informing legal and policy reform.