Sri Lanka reimposes ban on women buying alcohol, days after lifting it


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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena reimposed a ban on women buying alcohol, following a storm of criticism after his government revoked the 1979 prohibition just a few days earlier. (The Guardian).

The country’s finance minister removed the almost four-decade-long restriction last Wednesday in an attempt to “restore gender neutrality,” according to a ministry spokesman. Men are legally permitted to drink alcohol in the region.

On Sunday, after a wave of controversy, Sirisena’s office announced, “From tomorrow (Monday), the minister’s order will be rescinded,” as reported by AFP.

The initial decision to remove the ban was welcomed by some liberal Sri Lankan women in the Buddhist-majority country, according to the BBC, but more conservative voices argued that the change could encourage alcohol addiction and ran counter to Sri Lankan culture.

The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection said (AFP) that the finance minister was encouraging drinking, opposition MPs said the decision would damage the country’s Buddhist values, and leading Buddhist monks said it could destroy family life.

A 2014 World Health Organization report showed that 80.5 percent of women in the country abstained from alcohol for life, compared to 56.9 percent of men.

Sirisena has campaigned against alcohol and this episode hints at divisions in the country’s coalition government. The president’s main coalition partners are currently calling for long-delayed local elections.

This is an emerging story which needs expansion if you wish to EDIT to add information or discuss it in TALK.

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