Sri Lanka lifts 38-year ban on women buying, selling alcohol

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has revoked a 38-year ban on selling alcohol to women and employing them in places where the drinks are produced and sold.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera signed the notification revoking the ban to restore gender equality and promote tourism, a government statement said.

The ban had been in force since 1979, the early years of Sri Lanka embracing an open market economy. But many businesses had employed women to sell and serve alcohol and sold alcohol to them in spite of the ban.

The government also decided to allow liquor outlets to stay open an hour later, until 10 p.m.

The decision could become politically sensitive with clergy in the predominantly Buddhist nation opposing liberalizing alcohol consumption. However, many Sri Lankans consume alcohol.

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