Sri Lanka’s president, Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the reinstatement of a ban on women buying alcohol and being employed in bars including where drinks are produced.
The decision came nearly a week after the finance minister revoked the 38-year-old ban. He said its removal violated the country’s cultural and moral values, according to ABC News.
But in a statement by the Government spokesman and Health Minister, Rajitha Senarathna, he said the President and his the Cabinet reinstated the ban at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.
He said the president was committed to building a “cultured society with values such as freedom, morality, and democracy.”
“(Alcohol) is not a requirement of women in this country. This is against our culture,” Senarathna told reporters.
According to him, alcohol is part of the social system and foods and drinks in Europe, but “it is not so in Sri Lanka. Therefore, laws on alcohol are different here than there (Europe).”
It was also reported that the finance minister last week amended regulations to allow liquor outlets to stay open an hour later, until 10 p.m. But the president ordered that decision to be reversed as well.
The ban on women buying alcohol and being employed at where drinks are produced and sold had been in force since 1979, the early years of Sri Lanka embracing an open market economy.
Meanwhile, critics have accused the president of not taking gender equality seriously.
“This is not just about this archaic sexist law but the archaic sexist system in which this law is just one more tool of control,” wrote one Sri Lankan blogger.