Jan 16, 2018

Alcohol ban matter: male supremacy or hypocrisy? Featured

BBC Sandeshaya questions if the president’s having annulled the lifting of the ban on women from buying alcohol and from being employed at liquor stalls is one that has gone beyond male supremacy.

It is clear Sri Lankan women have a long way to go in order to win equal rights.

That is notwithstanding the fact that women dominate the economy, and they control the three main means of foreign exchange earnings – as domestic servants in the Middle East and the tea and garment industries, it says.

Removal of the ban on women from buying alcohol and being employed at liquor stalls is not a serious problem faced by women today.

Objections by joint opposition

It is mostly men who criticized the removal of the ban, and the joint opposition too, strongly campaigned against it.

Its MP Bandula Gunawardena has said women had never before gone to work at a bar, and challenged the president to use his executive powers to restore the ban.

Also, Omalpe Sobhitha Thera said alcohol caused increases in vices, adding that it would be a myth to say that allowing women to work at bars will ensure their rights, adding that that would only negate the dignified status of women in society.

Most of these opponents are of the view that the lifting of the ban will make women addicted to alcohol, thereby adversely affecting the family structure.

Why president mediated?

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"I instructed the immediate annulment of the circular"

On January 14, president Maithripala Sirisena said he would consider these views and re-impose the ban.

The president’s decision is not surprising, since he is on an anti-alcohol campaign.

However, there are also opinions that the removal of the ban, done in consideration of equality for women, and its re-imposition show there are disagreements within the unity government.

President Sirisena says the women’s representation in election has been raised and that they are being encouraged to involve more in politics.

Some have tweeted that therefore, double-standards on this matter is an act of hypocrisy.

What Lankan girl tells president

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“Your sexism can wait.”

Kavindya Tennakoon, a student of Oxford University in the UK, has said she studies while working at a bar.

She advises the president, “Your sexism can wait.”

The government first said it lifted the ban that has been imposed by a 1955 law in consideration of different treatment for women.

What statistics say

WHO statistics issued in 2014 for Sri Lanka note that when compared to alcohol consumption among 56.9 per cent of men, 80.5 pc of women have never tasted alcohol.

Less than 0.1 pc of females over 15 years of age are addicted to alcohol, compared to 0.8 pc among males.

Official statistics say between 10,000 and 15,000 alcohol-related deaths occur in the country each year.

Meanwhile, a global study carried out in 2016 shows both men and women consume equal quantities of alcohol.