Could social media be setting up women for divorce?
DNA testing is the latest trend and booming business for any ambitious investor in Uganda. What started off as mere social media discussions and jokes, has now grown into a distress factor for many women.
If you have been keen enough to notice, some public transport vehicles now have DNA advert stickers on the back and if you have not seen one, at least one of your WhatsApp groups has brought the topic to debate. Now men are quick to suggest this test at any slight feel of indifference in a particular child. If the forehead doesn’t match the father’s, the skin colour is far dissimilar or the feet do not align, that child must be subjected to a DNA test.
On June, 13, 2023, the spokesperson of Internal Affairs, Simon Mundeyi while addressing the media said the number of men seeking DNA testing had shot up by 70%.
“Of recent, the number of people asking for DNA services has increased. Last week alone, we had around 40 people, who were looking for services of DNA at the ministry because they know that we control the Government Analytical laboratory,’’ Mr. Mundeyi said.
Looking back, ‘’Sengas’’ in Buganda, had a way of identifying a newborn baby without scientifically proving the genetics. However, these were not particularly accurate. With the advancement in science and technology, DNA is nearly 100% accurate when it comes to proving paternity of a child.
Gawaya Tegulle while giving insight on the topic in an article said DNA testing could open doors for domestic violence.
‘‘DNA has redefined domestic violence and heartbreak for men and children,’’ he highlighted.
Whereas technology has advanced many businesses and provided opportunities for the youth, it has introduced an era of destabilising the comfort of people including careers with the introduction of artificial intelligence. Now, we are headed to broken families because of the new exciting DNA testing that seems to answer many questions for Ugandan men.
Should we blame it on the affordability of the DNA test now more than ever, lack of trust or the rise of infidelity cases among married couples? Somehow Ugandan men have been led to believe that being a parent to a child must have blood ties and thus, this must be proven.
But how unfair will this whole situation be to children who are subjected to such tests that actually come out indisposed. Imagine the trauma of finding out that the man you have grown up calling father is actually not your father.
Here are some reactions from people on social media.
Isaac Ssemakadde, a prominent lawyer, in an interview said DNA testing is of no profit but a family destroyer.
“Of what profit is scientific accuracy if it destroys families and social order?”
“The everywhereness of DNA testing in today’s Uganda is a threat to our cultural understanding of the fmaily which if unchecked may lead to widespread conflict, insecurity and violence,’’ he added.
“Mandatory paternity tests at birth now make alot of sense,” says Nicholas Muhumuza a twitter user.
“The real question is should we trust the hospitals doing these DNA tests? We have heard stories of people misdiagonised with HIV. If you choose DNA please have a second or third opinion ,’’ says Violet N Masaba, also a twitter user.
Suprisingly there are few women commenting on the issue however crucial it is to them.
Simon Mundeyi further noted that some men are now waking up to the fact that they are looking after children that are not theirs.
However disruptive DNA testing is, it also has its adavantages especially when it comes to issues of murder cases or homicides. For example, recently, the parents of the school children that were burnt in the fire in Kasese were submitted to DNA tests to help identify bodies.
My worry is what will become of the family institution, if we dwell on mistrust even before the bun is fully baked.
By Hedwig Arinaitwe.
A journalist, passionate about amplyfing the voice of women often unheard.