Sri Lanka Has Reinstated The Ban on Women Buying Alcohol—Days After It Was Revoked

The President of Sri Lanka has re-imposed a decades-long ban on women buying alcohol.

The decision came just days after the finance minister Mangala Samaraweera had revoked the ban. The move, announced on Wednesday (January 10), was seen as a way to strike down sexist laws and tackle gender disparity in the country.

However, President Maithripala Sirisena said on Sunday (14 January) that the decision would be reversed. He did not give any explanation.

In another statement quoted by local news site Economy Next, the leader said: "I have ordered the finance ministry to immediately halt the circular permitting the sale of alcohol to women and extending the opening time of alcohol sales outlets from 8.00 to 10.00 p.m."

Before making the announcement, the president said on Twitter: "I expressed my view on the recent revision to the regulations on alcohol control to Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and the positive outcomes of my intervention will soon be seen."

The decision to repeal the 1979 law, which forbids the sale of any type of alcohol to women, caused backlash in some areas of the Buddhist-majority country. Some people argued that lifting the ban would result in more women becoming addicted to alcohol.

The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection accused the finance ministry of encouraging drinking.

Sri Lanka alcohol ban
This picture taken on, 26 February 2007 shows a Sri Lankan woman holding a cocktail during a competition in Colombo organised by Sri Lanka's biggest tea brand, Dilmah, to promote tea cocktails. The President of Sri Lanka has re-imposed a decades-long ban on women buying alcohol. days after the finance minister Mangala Samaraweera revoked the ban. LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images

However, a spokesperson for the ministry of finance told AFP that the decision aimed to "restore gender neutrality." Under new measures passed by the finance ministry, bars and pubs could stay open longer and women would be allowed to work in such places.

Samaraweera further explained that strict curbs on Sri Lanka's licensed liquor manufacturers encourages sales of spirits on the black market and deprives the country of needed revenues.

Last November, Sri Lanka announced tax rises on hard liquor, but reduced tariffs on wine and beer.

It is not clear whether Sirisena's decision will also reinstate the ban on women to work in bars and pubs.

At present, liquor vendors are still forbidden to sell to sell spirits to secuirty forces in uniform.

Sirisena's decision to re-instate the ban has equally stirred outrage, with some claiming the move is emblematic of the "sexist system" present in the country.