Sri Lanka President, unconstitutional order on alcohol has little effect women: think tank

ECONOMYNEXT – A sexist and discriminatory move by President Maithripala Sirisena to ban women from buying has no effect in law, though it is unconstitutional on the face of it, a think tank has argued.

Sri Lanka’s finance minister revoked an earlier discriminator ban on selling alcohol to women leading to a knee jerk sexist reaction from President Maithripala Sirisena and a male dominated cabinet of ministers.

But Verete Research, a Colombo based think tank said the re-imposed restriction only applied the sale of alcohol to a "woman within the premises of a tavern’."

Most retail alcohol retail shops are not ‘taverns’ the think tank said.

Sri Lanka excise ordinance enacted in 1912 during does not define the term ‘tavern’ but Black’s Law Dictionary defines a tavern as ‘a place of entertainment…[or] a house for the retailing of liquors to be drunk on the spot, the think tank said in a statement.

"Sri Lanka’s excise licensing regime has over twenty types of licenses that are issued for the manufacture and sale of liquor," Verete Research said.

"This regime includes licenses for retail shops, licenses for bars, licenses for hotels, licenses for rest houses, and licenses for the consumption of liquor on the premises in which it is sold.

"There are only two types of licenses for ‘taverns’: licenses for toddy taverns and for foreign liquor taverns."

Verete said the widespread perception that the law prohibited sales of wine to women even in a supermarket may have been promoted by an interpretation promoted by the Department of Excise.

"This view, however, appears to be untenable in law," the think tank said.





In countries such as the UK there are two types main types of liquor license.

An ‘off-license’ where people can buy alcohol but cannot consume (bottles cannot be opened and divided)and ‘on-license’ places where buyers can consume such as by the glassful.

In practice however workers of some arrack shops, also break up bottles and sell in quarter bottles sources familiar with Sri Lanka’s alcohol trade say. (Colombo/Jan22/2018)

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