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Sri Lankan Finance Minister Restores Ban on Selling Alcohol to Women


A Sri Lankan man drinks beer at a bar in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan. 12, 2018. The country's finance minister has reversed his earlier decision to lift a ban on selling alcohol to women.

A ban on selling alcohol to women will remain in place in Sri Lanka, after the finance minister reversed his earlier decision to lift it.

President Maithripala Sirisena had said Sunday that the ban would be reimposed. On Thursday, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said he had canceled his decision to lift it at the "request of the Cabinet of Ministers."

In a filing to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 11 women activists opposed reinstating the ban, which also prevents women from working in liquor stores.

"Any such measure would deprive the members of the female gender who have attained the requisite age specified by law from being lawfully employed at places of production and sale of liquor," the petitioners said in their filing.

Officials at the Finance Ministry said the ban was lifted after repeated requests from the tourism industry to extend bar hours and allow female tourists to buy alcohol.

But opposition parliamentarians criticized that move, saying it would damage Sri Lanka's Buddhist values. Sinhalese Buddhists account for more than 70 percent of the island nation's 21 million population.

Sri Lanka will hold local government elections February 10.

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