10:20 GMT02 April 2020
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    Social media users are outraged by the president’s reversal of last week’s decision to relax a discriminatory restriction on selling liquor to female customers.

    On January 14, Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena overruled a new reform to lift a decades-old ban on women buying alcohol and working in places that sell or manufacture spirits in Sri Lanka. The ban was reimposed after the Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera, announced a reform on January 10.

    "From tomorrow [Monday], the minister's order will be rescinded," Sirisena's office said in a statement.

    The decision to abolish the 1979 law prohibiting the sale of any type of spirits to women was made on the basis that it discriminated against women. However, it provoked a backlash in some regions of the mainly Buddhist country, with activists accusing the government of encouraging women's alcohol consumption which disrupts family values and culture.

    But many Sri Lankan women then welcomed the change, which would have granted them the same rights as men to buy strong drinks and to work in bars without a state permit.

    Sirisena's order to withdraw the motion was largely criticized on social media as "archaic" and "sexist."

    In Sri Lanka, liquor distributors are also forbidden to sell booze to police or military personnel in uniform.

    According to the finance minister, this restriction only encourages a black market for spirits and deprives the government of revenue.


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