Paternity Testing Fiasco: Uganda’s Families Left in Turmoil


BBC Focus On Africa Reports that there is a sharp increase in the number of men in Uganda seeking paternity tests, fears are growing it could break up families and leave children psychologically scarred. The issue has been a hot topic of debate in the country 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, prompting him to request paternity tests that reportedly said he was the biological father of only 15 of his 25 children.

“We have seen social media messages where people think paternity tests are disruptive to families and can cause gender-based violence. We want to make sure that doesn’t happen because of the result which is given,”

Dr Kyabayinze told the BBC. Microbiologist Freddie Bwanga said the state laboratory where he works has not seen a major increase in requests for testing, but greater awareness now exists around the issue.

His experience over the years shows that 60-70% of tests prove a biological link between the father and child. As for the 30% to 40% who found they were not, the outcome was often beneficial in

“helping children to be settled where they are born”.

Testing is better than relying on age-old cultural practices – like smearing cow fat on the umbilical cord, and putting it in a woven basket filled with water.

Uganda’s state minister for primary health care said there was no need for men to seek paternity tests.

“Anything that you don’t know can’t kill you. If you don’t know that this is not your child, it won’t break your heart. But when you find out your heart will be broken,”

Margaret Muhanga said.

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