Photo by Daniel Munoz/Reuters via ABC

Last weekend I received a call from a friend who was understandably outraged. On the way to her estate to join her husband who had been working there for some days, she was instructed by him to stop and buy a bottle of old arrack en route. She went to the Chilaw Food City only to be told that she cannot buy alcohol as she is female. She tried to argue the point as she had never heard of the law that was being put forward by the manager but he merely pointed to a sign which was in Sinhala pasted on the wall (obviously he had never heard of the official languages provisions in the Constitution) and said he was sorry but it was the law. In passing he said, if she brought a man with her, he would be able to sell the liquor to them, even if she paid! This might have been his attempt to subvert the alleged law and be helpful but it made my friend even more angry to be told this. Since then I have heard other stories of women being refused permission to buy liquor in supermarkets around Colombo.

On investigation I dug up the law from an on line article of the Sunday Times:

Excise Notification 447 of 29.4.1955: Section 12 (c): No liquor shall be sold or given to a woman within the premises of a tavern.


Excise Notification 417 of Ceylon Government Gazette No 100266 of 5.7.1951:
(b) Prohibits the possession by any female of any quantity of arrack or fermented toddy in any public place throughout the whole island except under the authority of a permit or pass duly granted under that Ordinance.

These laws passed soon after independence are outdated and chauvinistic. Long after the very countries that introduced these regulations to us, have dismissed these directives from their own law books, we still cling on to the vestiges of colonialism that contribute towards gender discrimination and double standards.

I am writing this because I think women should in fact be allowed to buy alcohol just like any Sri Lankan man can and that it is absurd to prohibit the possession of alcohol in a public place but also because over the years there has been an insidious shift in Sri Lanka’s attitude towards women.

A moral panic over women’s behaviour is slowly creeping across the country driven by the state but also other actors such as the clergy. We have heard of stories of requiring mothers to meet the principals of their children’s government schools dressed only in sari, of prohibiting mothers of children under 5 of seeking employment abroad, of attempting to impose a dress code on female university lecturers and of the recent denial of any domestic violence existing in Sri Lanka and as a result the irrelevance of a domestic violence law.

Under the guise of culture and tradition, Sri Lankan women are being increasingly forced to become second class citizens for in plain words this is gender discrimination. Arguments to the contrary that in the absence of these laws, Sri Lankan women would be found drunk wandering the streets or they would wear provocative clothes to enter schools or universities or that there will be an increase in the number of divorces by women due to the  domestic violence act  is simply absurd. They are as ridiculous as the parallel argument that if homosexuality was legalized that would be a concerted effort to brain wash children into being gay.

This is a plea to all female citizens and enlightened men of Sri Lanka that if we do not resist this pressure to conform to a particularly male ideal of how a woman should dress, behave, look etc  we would lose all rights and privileges that we have gained. Of all the countries of South Asia Sri Lanka has prided itself on being the most woman friendly and the most progressive with regard to women. We boast about granting voting rights to women in 1931, of having had the first female head of state in the world, of a high female literacy rate and of a low female mortality rate. But if we continue in this vein we will limit freedom and rights for the women of Sri Lanka and I am not exaggerating. It will creep on us slowly and extensively, and if we do not take a stance now against  anti women legislation and attitudes that exist and various attempts to introduce new laws and regulations which seek to further restrict our freedom of choice, expression and mobility it will sadly be too late.

As for my title, it stems from a quick look at countries around the world proclaiming to be Islamic where women have little or no rights contrary to the teachings  and spirit of Islam. I have noticed over the years that Sri Lanka has been veering towards a similar extremism most often reflected negatively on Sri Lankan women. It is a restriction of our society perpetrated by our very own government and the so called guardians of our culture. If we are not careful, we women will soon become second class citizens in our own country.

Welcome then, to the Islamic Republic of Sri Lanka.

  • Grim Hope

    I am surprised that CBK never changed the law so she could buy alcohol! 🙂 I guess she had people to buy it for her back then.

  • This is still common at most wine stores in Colombo, the major chains in town are a bit more lenient especially with foreign females but still a lot of my female local friends ask for me to purchase on their behalf.

  • Actually Ameena, it’s “The Islamic Republic of Sri Rajapakistan.” Day by day we are turning into (not the miracle) but the debacle of asia. Don’t be surprised if someday in the future, women in this country are ordered to wear sari with their heads and faces covered when they go out in public.

  • Kivulegedara

    These regulations imposed long time ago, back in 1950s. Also some of the laws are outdated in our country and must revise soon too. Buying an alcohol from a public place in Sri Lanka by a woman is not acceptable and advisable at all as it leads to many other problems. Then there must be a separate outlet for women as that is not going to happen any way due to cultural bonds. If someone wants to go against norms still they have a chance and I saw many instances Sri Lankan women drunken and hanging around the city during the night times.

    Most Sri Lankan women (specially Sinhalese) better off than most developed countries in west as they enjoying full freedom on their soil. There may be some second class level treatments as Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country as we know that some ethnic groups behave and treat their women partners as second class, and that’s not happening only in Sri Lanka but elsewhere as well. If government try to set rules for those, they might start shouting and say Sri Lanka not giving them to practice their own traditions, so its not an easy thing when you deal with multi-ethnic society.

    • Against Fraud

      “Most Sri Lankan women (specially Sinhalese) better off than most developed countries in west as they enjoying full freedom on their soil..”
      I presume that you have sent these comments from another planet! Can you PLEASE tell us which of the “developed” countries LEGISLATE unequal status for women?
      It is unfortunate that the moderator doesn’t exclude comments such as this based on the application of some sort of “stupidity factor!”

      • Thakshila

        Was amused at Kivulegedera’s comments. As if men who are drunk do not cause problems. Drunkenness is horrible and that is an entirely different debate. What the writer of this article is saying is that there should not be two separate laws if all citizens are equal.

  • Dear Ammena Hussein,
    Our Constitution has declared Sri Lanka a Buddhist State. But, our governments have distilleries and have legally allowed Buddhists and others to consume alcohol! This shows that Buddhism has been used by our ‘learned’ politicians and the Buddhist religious leaders to achieve some other things in our country. In our democratic country, our voters accept and support the Constitutional aim of our country. The problem you refer is a minor issue. You have not understood that you being a non – Buddhist minority have no right to speak about these.

    • @Wijesundara

      A typical reply from a typical Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist. So since Ameena comes from a minority religion/race she has no right to voice her opinions eh? Sinhala Buddhist rule…and the minorities have to say, “Yes sir…no sir…ulcer?

      …yes according to the constitution,Sri Lanka has been declared a Buddhist State…but those Sinhala Buddhists who believe that it is so, are just fooling themselves. If Sri Lanka is a Buddhist state, then Bangkok is a nunnery.

      • Donald

        Actually, I hang out at the supermarket and buy booze for the females who come there. My usual commission is a bottle of stout for every bottle of arrack purchased. That works out to around 25%. Who said Sri Lanka isn’t a land of opportunity.

    • Michael

      Dear Wijesundara, I am sorry but I’d like to see you quote which Article, paragraph or, for God’s sake, SENTENCE in the Constitution (of 1978) declares Sri Lanka a “Buddhist State”. Honestly. I am sure the rest of us would also like to know.

    • Dilanke

      I feel that this issue does not have anything to do with culture or religion. It is about adamant and egocentric politicians implementing such rules to again votes (It goes without saying that most Sri Lankans like these kinds of rules especially the uneducated traditionalists).

      I’m a male Buddhist who has been bought up by a Buddhist family. I do feel that consumption alcohol should be limited. It should be done with effective rules such as age restrictions. But the above stated rule in the article is purely stupid and discriminating. Women should have equal rights in every aspect. They should not be discriminated in any manner.

      In Sri Lanka we often hear about rapes and abuses (Even done by politicians) and for a fact we know that women often get abused in buses and trains. This has become very common now. But as Sri Lankans what have we done to stop these? We should as a country should work on protecting females and giving them equal rights. Women should not be considered inferior (as mentioned in the comments).

      Most comments mentioned above have missed the point Ameena is trying to make. Her point is, in a broad perspective rules such as these will lead to treating women as second class citizens. As usually most typical Sri Lankans have missed that point and given their irrational and judgemental comments regarding women drinking alcohol.

    • FP

      Oh good lord. You are completely speaking for yourself here! Myself a sinhalese buddhist am shocked by this attitude

  • islamic republic? lol looks like that’s the end of islam’s existence in sri lanka

  • AE

    This out dated piece of legislation is contrary to Art. 12 of our 1978 Constitution, quoted below. Therefore, it is no longer applicable as its unconstitutional. Whether the issue is minor or not is immaterial in this instance.

    “12. (1) All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law.
    (2) No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds”.

    • According to Article 12, all persons are equal before the law!
      Than how come Tamil citizens were/are not treated as equals, both before and after 1978?

  • Christopher

    The laws in this regard may be old, but women are not to consume alcohol and therefore they should be restricted from purchasing such beverages. If there is discrimination against women in Sri Lanka, then how come that Sri Lanka gave the first (1st) ever woman head of state to the World nearly 65 years ago and then a second woman head of state as recently as six years ago? Women are crying foul and they want to do everything what men do – there is no harm in that, as it is a basic human right. What I want to see is to drop those women who cry for nothing in a Middle Eastern country and watch where in hell they get alcohol. This is a sad story for which men have no ears. Time is running out for you women, this world has been the domain of the man and men will call all the shots whether women cry foul or not. Sadly or not, women have been a none entity in the Western world until as recent as 1937 where American’s let women participate in democratic process by allowing them to vote by classifying women are persons. At the end of the day, Men are men and women are just “persons.” Sadly though, the nature cannot be changed.

    • This is NOT a Middle Eastern country, so talk of dropping women anywhere, is retarded. Should we also drop our Sinhalese Buddhists in the ME and see how they go to the temple over there? The point is we are a multi-ethnic South Asian democracy, so let’s behave like that, and not like the Taliban. 99% of alcohol abuse in SL is by men, not women. Perhaps the law should be that a man cannot buy alcohol unless accompanied by a woman 🙂

    • kadphises


      “If there is discrimination against women in Sri Lanka, then how come that Sri Lanka gave the first (1st) ever woman head of state to the World nearly 65 years ago and then a second woman head of state as recently as six years ago?”

      You are absolutely correct Christopher. As you say when it comes to selecting head of state in Sri Lanka there is no discrimination at all. Even Murderers, thieves, fraudsters, adulterers, liars and even alcoholics who violate the five precepts of Buddhism every day can all achieve this office. In fact these traits have become qualifications rather than impediments.

  • sumathy


    I am glad you gave publicity to this issue and raised the issue of chaunvinism. But as one other commentator has said, this has nothing to do with Islamic Republics.

    I am sometimes disturbed by the easy way in which people use the term
    ‘talibanism’ to denote suppression of women, particularly with regard to questions arising over women’s choice of attire. I don’t think what you are saying is in that same spirit, but it has to be stressed that this is about us and not any republic out there away from us. This is about us in Sri Lanka, Muslims, Tamils, Sinhala Christians (incuding Catholics) and Sinhala Budhists, Burghers, Veddas and all other communities.

    Well, having said all that, i’d say that let’s have a discussion on this on a broader public platform. It is also interesting it comes to light that some of the moonshine businesses have women involved in them.
    Again on a related note: I came across a newspaper item or a note in a govt. logfrom 1905 where a British government agent in Kayts (or one fo the islands off Jaffna peninsula) was bemoaning the fact that it was very difficult to fight with those tough women who controlled the toddy and arrack production in the island! A refreshing departure from the pious face put on by Jaffna tamils regarding their culture!

    Foucault talks of disciplining the body, through the discursive space and through state mechanism. thsi is an instance of it. But how do we tackle it? We need both research and dialogue with large segments of society.

    • kadphises


      I think what Ameena is attempting here is to point out that the Lankan “Buduban”, is no different to the Afghan Teliban which the Buduban so loves to demonise. This I think is an important message to all those who think it is alright to impose their “moral” views on others. Religious bigots of all denominations have much common ground between them. And on this basis I think they should unite!

      You never heard the Buduban imploring the government to show Maithriya to Tamils caught in the NFZ.

      You never hear the Teliban housing and feeding the war weary Afghans.

      But let a woman show a bit of flesh, be caught enjoying a drink or the company of another male she is not married to and all hell breaks loose. The writer is merely pointing out that both these seemingly antagonistic philosopies really have a lot in common.

  • mediwaka banda

    In Kundasale there is junction call (Thum) three bar junction. After 6 pm children or ladies cannot walk along this area because invariably there will be a fight after drinking. So filthy words they used can be heard only in our parliament. Rather than tackling this kind of issues passing laws preventing females purchasing drinks from a super market is hilarious and ridiculous but not surprise when you consider the think tank of present government!!!

  • Stanobey

    This article is not entirely about Muslim women and their rights yet I find it hilarious that Ms Hussain lamenting of the plight of the Muslim woman contrary to the ‘teachings and spirit’ of Islam but at the same time championing the right of women to buy booze.

    Among the many causes that Ms Hussain fights for – the right of the Muslim women is one of them. However what Muslim women need are campaigners who are themselves true to the ‘teachings and spirit’ of Islam and not bogus campaigners who clearly are far away from the teachings and spirit of Islam.

    Rather than have a neutral title that accurately reflects the contents of her article – women’s rights in a non – islamic country – by using ‘Islamic Republic’ she reinforces a stereotype and plays on Islamaphobia. Is she the liberal rights activist that she portrays herself to be?

    • ColomboCharlie


      Islamaphobia = When one knows more about Islam than one is supposed to know.

      • Sam

        @colombocharlie – no, Islamaphobia = when one knows more about Islam from unreliable sources than objective ones!

        As to miss Husseins article, I am not sure why she is devoting so much energy to a womans right to buy an intoxicant which lead to abuse of women, when there are so many genuine areas of concern for women such as sexual harassment and perhaps the practice of burdensome dowries in her own community! I guess the next thing she will get riled about is the lack of proper female representation among pimps and gamblers! Having known her personally, it does not surprise me at her sheer focus on feminism rather than genuine human rights.

  • Chat

    I do not like the idea of any sort of discrimination. However, I also do not believe in SL being the same as Western nations when it comes to implementation of this type of laws. In Western nations, where I happen to live, women are far more frequently objectivised, treated as sex objects for commercial reasons. And I find that repugnant. I do not let my wife, who by the way is not Sri Lankan, buy liquor for me, just the same way as I open the door for her, and do other small things for her – that for me is etiquette – not discrimination. And she feels quite special about that. However, banning something is not a solution. The position of women in SL society is overall very good. And I am sure Sri Lankans can be far more civilized than Western people in the way women are treated. We need to find the ideal balance, without aping Western nations.

    • @Chat

      You should let your wife travel vis Sri Lankan transport (bus/train) to understand how well women are treated in Sri Lanka. 😀

    • Nirmala de Soyza

      This is my first visit to Groundviews and Ameena’s article immediately caught my eye. I am glad she paid attention to how an archaic and obsolete law is still being upheld by some shops. My eyes then scanned, with mounting irritation and disbelief, the comments posted by some readers. It is indeed an eye opener to learn how many people still believe that women are not quite at the same level of development, ability, intellectual capacity and so on, as men! Can we blame this intellectual bankruptcy of our countrymen on the dysfunctional State education system? The God delusion that Sri Lankans suffer from en masse? Or, is it the proverbial ‘frog in the well’ symptom of an island population?

      Abuse and misuse of alcohol is BAD – and it doesn’t matter whether the culprits are men or women. However, all adults, irrespective of their sex, MUST have the same rights to purchase and consume alcohol within their own personal boundaries. Just as we must all have the same rights in all aspects of life.

      All you men out there who think women need to be kept in check for their own good, and in order not to bring men to temptation, should take a good hard look at their mothers. Start with what you know best and is closest to home, and ask yourselves what exactly is wrong with your mothers. Then, ask yourselves whether you would be here posting silly comments if a woman had not given birth to you!

  • Riz

    Women buying alcohol for her husband is like wife taking her husband to a brothel. We need to have better laws to safeguard men, women, children, and the public.

    This piece of nonsensical write-up demeans religions, encourages family confrontations, and create disharmony among religions.

    We need laws to protect the majority from social evils and abuses of the minority.

  • Sunil

    Sri Lankan women earn a major propotion of foreign excahnge for the country. they should never be discriminated and sri lankan men should be ever so grateful to them from the day of they are born.

  • beagle

    This is making a mountain out of a molehill. Obviously, these Excise laws are antiquated and need to be re-addressed in a manner that will not be offensive to Sri Lankan society.
    However, even in the name of “equality” I do not think that I as a woman would wish to have women go to toddy taverns in search of their liquor. Realistically, it would only lead to many a situation in which they would be made the target of abusive remarks if not actual physical harassment as well as gestures of amusement and even contempt.
    Do we as a society really want these laws that were meant to be protective repealed in order to prove a point of equality?
    Sri Lankan women have enjoyed a pretty good status of acceptance in Sri Lanka’s traditional society, and we have the signal distinction and pride of having produced the world’s first woman Prime Minister. Women also have been accepted in the professions as equals without any problem. So why this hue and cry to let them in the taverns in a society that is attempting to get its men off drink?
    By all means address some issues such as women’s rights where they are being denied of some aspiration, and by all means repeal these archaic Excise laws, but do not try to blow this up into such fervor that this relatively unimportant antiquated legal idiosyncracy that happens to be still in the books deems the use of inciteful labels involving religion.

    • Why are you talking about toddy taverns when the author referred to a supermarket? The word “tavern” in the law refers to a bar or pub.

    • nadia

      And just commenting against about the name of the article, probably wasnt the accurate title but she was just trying to prove a point with a an effective title. Stop nit picking. Shes just using a stereotype and clearly isn’t addressing an attack on Islam but that Sri Lanka is just acting like a nation that has been publicly stereotyped to discrimated against women (im not suggesting that they’re – to all you activists wanting to jump at my comment). Probably wasn’t the smartest idea as it would upset lots of people. But the point she’s trying to make is that women need equal rights. Dont stray away from what article is actually saying.

      And for all the comments out there who say people should respect the laws. This law isn’t practiced anymore and it shouldn’t be taken literally. And the fact that some of you idiots think it still is just a blasphemy and just stupidity. Your’l clearly live in the middle of nowhere cuz women DO DRINK alcohol. And if you genuinely do believe people shouldn’t drink alcohol then every time you hold a glass of arrack in your hand that makes you the biggest hypocrite. You cant make decisions for the masses. You can deligate your wife from the village if you please, to do whatever you want, its her choice to marry someone of your stature. But what you prefer and your principles cannot govern all women.

      I think your friend should have blasted the Keels or whatever supermarket it was and taken serious action to complain to the head of the department and insisted to speak to the manager directly. Thats simply outrageous even in Sri Lanka in the day and age.

      I think women should be able to drink or smoke (me god yes I did say smoke so screw me) I think its everyones right to do what they please. And if the public have such strong view disagreeing then please stop drinking yourself and judging everyone with your stories about comparing foreign women to Lankan women. The affects of alcohol affects women more so than men with domestic abuse etc. So why isn’t it actually a law that men cannot purchase alcohol? Its because you still have the right to purchase whatever goods you want to. So if a women wants to consume alcohol or score some pot (im just saying this to ruffle your’ll up now) she has every right to as well.

  • Thomas

    I think that this is an excellent law. There are far too many drinkers in Sri Lanka and things will become much worse if women started drinking on a large scale. Therefore these laws should be preserved.
    This article shouldn’t criticise Muslim countries entirely. They have many good points to them as well.
    Sri Lanka is not going to become an Islamic state. Its women are among the most educated and participation in professions is high. There isn’t even the slightest chance that this is going to change.
    In Western countries women often drink far too much and vomit all over the place at night time which I have seen with my own eyes. Women in general cannot handle alcohol. I saw in a pub in the UK a creche for little children and several women were drinking beer while there toddlers played nearby.
    Most Sri Lankan women will be happy for this law to be preserved. Only the Westernising vanguard will be interested in chaging this law and they do not have ordinary Sri Lankan peoples interests at heart. Therefore the wellbeing of Sri Lankan society should not be sacrificed in order to satisfy there tastes.

  • Sarath

    A large majority of women supported a government that was suppressive to the Tamils, oblivious to their plight. Now the Tamils have been effectively brought under their boots, the government is turning their suppressive ways towards the very people who supported them. I bet you believe in Karma now, don’t you?

    I’m glad if at least some people are recognizing their mistake of ignoring the bad behavior of the gov. in the past.

    At least recognize that when you see others in trouble, because of the choices that you made, you could be in that situation too. Next time when you are at a voting booth I hope you’ll stop thinking about yourself and think for a moment what harm you’ll being to others through your choice.

  • God

    The article is interesitng topic to be discussed in a multy cultured and multy ethnic country. The authour used an un-fitting topic for the article. Which does not have anything to do with Islamic Republics. Frustrations and Anti-Semetic thinkers will do this kind of a mistake. Thank you for the discussions.

  • Ossan Salam

    I wish and pray if Sri Lanka could become an Islamic republic of Sri Lanka..that was not my argument ! why don’t this country become a Buddhist republic of Sri Lanka in the first place? Has Buddha preached that to consume alcohol ? or open bars in all towns at the close proximity of temples ? and to celebrate all “cradle to casket” functions with alcohol? certainly, the title of this article is a racial one and writer too introduced hypocratically she as a Muslim….fortunately she is not ? if bogus Ameena wants alcohol she may go to Sevanagala sugar factory now?

    • kadphises


      The Budda certaily exhorted people to desist from consuming alcohol. But at the same time he never told his followers that they had the right to stop others from consuming alcohol. The law prohibiting women from buying alcohol pertains to the latter.

      People should be exhorted to stop consuming all substances that cause addiction and are inimical to their health and others’.

      However if one person is willing to supply it and another is willing to consume it, a third person surely has no right stop the transaction? I think this is entirely in keeping with Buddhism. So why the need for this law even if one sees this as a “Buddist only” country? (I am not too sure however if Islam compells one to impose on others what is banned in the Koran – for surely if one wishes not to go to paradise it is his/her own business?)

  • Jafer

    Dear Ameena,

    I just cant stop being sorry for you. For you have been trapped to Westernism.It is until time you will understand how regrettable your thoughts and words have been.

  • mac

    as a buddhist country we need to respect the law , sri lanka is not america or some wild west where the women go drinking in the street . as a woman we grow up with lot of respect specially the women of sri lanka and this is also a disgrace for this kind of articles been written on the news paper.

  • Doha

    Ameena Hussain,

    sadly red the contents of your news article with the following text,

    “As for my title, it stems from a quick look at countries around the world proclaiming to be Islamic where women have little or no rights contrary to the teachings and spirit of Islam”

    I request you to live in these Islamic states to understand the roll of women and understand the privileges enjoyed by the women. It’s unfortunate that in some cases due to poor literacy among in certain places like Pakistan , Afghanistan this happens but in general for that matter in middle east the woman enjoys more privileges in the society than man.

    Please carryout a sincere survey before you publish any misleading information.

  • Shami

    This article is an eye opener for all. B4 readn this I didn’t evn know abt da existence of such a law. This is absurd. In the 21st century to have such laws. State cannot and should not control all aspects of the personal live of people. Everythn which is immoral shud not b made illegal by law. People readn this article shud also b openminded and take it in da spirit it’s writtn in and not try to create unnecessary contraversy around it. And as for the narrow minded people who think that only Bhuddists can have opinions or only men can drink… It’s best u go do us all a favour and [Edited out] urselves!!!

  • Ridha alayad

    Sri Lanka has had two female Leaders! Two people who created history in the World… along with many female ministers and the author is trying to say that Sri Lanka does not treat women equally???

    Clearly does not understand that equality does not mean Similarity

    And how does all this become an Islamic Topic… Do Not Compare Islam by a country or its Ruler… Read the Quran to learn what Islam says about Women

    Islam gives Women the highest regard. Much higher than Men.. The Quran has an entire Chapter on Women.. (Surah Nisa) yet there is no sura called Rigaal (Man)

    According to Islam… for a Man it is obligatory to provide for his house/family and ensure he supports the family but for a women she does not have any obligations she is free to keep her wealth to herself

    Why only Islam? Look at what is found in the Bible

    1st Corinthians in the bible Chapter 11 says women should cover and man does not need to since man is superior to women
    Genesis Chapter 24/v65 – Wife of Isaac or Jacob (Rebecca) took the veil and covered herself
    Nuns dress in similar form like Hijab (Only difference Muslims Women can marry and lead a family life)
    Bible says “ A women shall not wear Men’s clothing (Deuteronomy :22/5)
    Bible says If women does not wear the veil let her be cut (1st Corinthians :11/6)

    Its very easy to use an Islamic name and discredit Islam and become popular in the World… we have seen many such examples…. I sincerely hope this article is not such an example

    May all mighty guide us all

    • Ashan

      Ridha alayad,

      Hi, you have misquoted from the bible and said women who cover their head should be cut. The verse in question says, HER HAIR should be cut short. But again it advises you to rather worship with a covered head rather than an uncovered one. Please note, it is talking of being in the church, not in everyday life for one thing.

  • Ananda

    Perhaps, this happened in Chilaw. But I have seen women buying alcohol in Colombo.

    Anyways, it is time to do away with that Gazette notification.

    Cheers !

  • mnsmart

    Ameena is completely lost. why do you want to drag Islam at this stupid situation? you journalists should be more careful when presenting a subject to mass media. I strongly suggest media censorship to avoid this type of damaging news items published…

  • sabbe laban

    This is a “Taliban” law and should be repealed as soon as possible. The article says in another place that foreign women are allowed to buy liquor! This is even more laughable and ridiculous;It’s a shame on Sri Lanka

  • Vikram A. Thithan

    The author is very clear about why she chose this particular title. Just look around at countries that declare themselves to be Islamic, and she finds them to be particularly oppressive towards women. I think she is right about that. It is not about Islam or what it says; it is about those countries and their rulers who use Islam as a way to gain power and oppress their citizens (and groups within them) in the name of an essentially peaceful religion. So there is no need to get worked up about the title of the article.

  • Quite a few people who commented here are of the view that women in SL are treated better than in the west. Well here is some news for them.

  • Nazafi

    Hi Ameena,

    First of all im so surprised to hear this article from a name called Ameena Hussein. second of all i would really apreciate if these writers do their writing skills without harming any religions. can be islam or buddhism or hindusiam or christianity.

    Its nothing to do with religion and this matter. according to any religion its prohibited to have alcohole. its not only man or women. and the womens who veil their head in this country not because of some people force but with their own will. i believe this country have democracy to follow their beliefs without harming any others beliefs.

    and if any one says about womens have no equal rights in this country. i wouldnt be trusting that cos u have write this kind of a topic on line an still u safe. come out of the crwel mind u r in right now and see with the open eyes. most top positions of organizations are held and manged by womens 🙂 feels so sad of u r narrow mind.

    • sabbe laban


      Though the religions forbid taking alcohol(with the possible exception of Christianity) the government allows the sale of it. The author is questioning, in that case why can’t a woman buy it! Hope it’s not too much for your brain to comprehend!

      • @sabbe laban

        Well said.


        Those who drink, go to sleep.
        Those who sleep, don’t sin.
        Those who don’t sin, go to heaven.
        So drink and go to heaven. 😀

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Look at what the author has written and not at her.

    What she simply says is that this particular law is discriminatory against women and it should be changed.

    Firstly if there is a law it should be equally applied to both sexes. Therefore, this law is wrong and needs to be amended. As one pointed out it contradicts the base of the all laws, which is the constitution.

    Constitutionally Sri Lanka is not a Buddhist Country. Exept the special place given to Buddhism, Sri Lanka is a de jure secular country.

    Every body has the right to decide what they consumes as long as it will not affect the others. We have decided that there is a difference between tobacco, alcohol and other hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine etc. Therefore, conumption of the former two is regarded as legal. The liberal democratic dislike of too much interference by the state in private lives of citizens may have played a part in legalizing them. It is my view that we should continue to legalize alcohol and tobbaco giving its citizen a freedom of choice. I do not think majority of people in our country would like to live in a country, where every aspect of our lives are controlled by the state. In this context, it is wrong to exlude women from enjoying the freedom of buying alcohol.

    It is a popular misconception that Buddhism prohibits consumption of alcohol. It is only one of five percepts. As you all know they are not mandatory laws. Although I am not sure who a buddhist is I suspect that a person does not need to observe five percepts to call themselves a Buddhist. Only requirment is the desire to seek refuge in the ‘three gems’. Therefore, you can call Sri Lanka a buddhist country even if if its people consume alcohol.

    Moreover, it appears to be odd to place alcohol in the midst of the five percepts. unlike the other percepts there are variations of consuption of alcohol. There a huge difference between a social drinker, who is not addicted and has not made drinking a problem for their lives and a person who is an addict and made his life a mess due to alcohol. Majority of people I know belong to the former category. What kind of problem do they create for the society or to their families by their drinking habits? If fact alcohol has become a relaxing and socialising instrument for them. Therefore, is it fare to judge these law abiding, family-loving, responsible people on par with the ‘problem drinkers’? What would the Buddhism say about them?

    Some of the contributors in this disscussion boast that we have granted full equality for women citing the first prime minister and president CBK. You can claim this a victory for women’s right in Sri Lanka if they had come to the power from ‘common people’. In stead they became the leaders of this country not because we respect women but because they came from a most powerful aristocratic family.

    I would invite all these ladies, who have hypnotized themselves thinking that we have given equal rights to women, to travel in public trasport, to stay in a bus halt after 6 to go home after late shift, to talk to a stranger in a public transport, etc. How many of our women are being sexually harrassed by their collegues and bosses in our work places? You listen to how you husbands and sons talk about women in private with their friends to know how they disparage women using names like ‘baduwa’ ‘kella’ etc.

    I omitted the number of child sexual abuses, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence etc as some body would argue that they are criminal offences and only criminals engage in them.

    We can boast about granting women equal rights as the men if they can travel in public transport without harrassment, walk on a public road without jeering and unwanted comments from the men, wait for a bus in a bus halt without car drivers stopping to give lifts, survive in work places without any form of sexual harrassment, go to a party and enjoy it with their sons and husbands, and if the men talk about women with respect not only in front of their mothers and sisters but even in private, when men do not think that except their mothers an sisters all the other women are whores etc. The list goes on and on.

  • As usual, our politicians have got it all wrong again! It is the men folk who should not be allowed to buy liquor, but women must be allowed to buy it for their menfolk. Then let’s sit back and watch the fun!

    By the way, to all those Buddhist pundits, Buddhism doesn’t ban or prohibit anything (not even alcohol),it only advises against the ill effects of it.

    And also to all those men who think women are inferior, don’t forget where you first came from. The stalk certainly didn’t bring you.

    Finally if you think those politicians who impose such laws are teetotlers, you have to be from another planet!

    • It is evident that many people use any opportunity to ‘have a go’at the Buddhist philosophy. Little do they know that the great teacher was a true liberal whose doctrine encouraged people to take responsibility for their own actions, and to be moderate in everything they did.

  • Hameed Abdul Karim

    Responding to ‘Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Sri Lanka’

    So now we know. Women’s equality comes when they are allowed to buy a bottle of liquor at any public store according to Ms. Ameena Hussein (DM 15 Dec. 2011) and if that does not happen, along with other things less important we might degenerate into an Islamic state. What inspiring logic!

    Actually I am not surprised with what the writer has to say. What surprises me is the fact that the Daily Mirror thought it fit to carry this article with the provocative title ‘Welcome to the Islamic Republic of Sri Lanka’ along with a picture of Muslim women seated on the floor of some community centre somewhere in Sri Lanka probably waiting to be liberated with a shot of scotch on the rocks by the likes of ‘liberated’ women.

    Some of us may not like it. But there is a thing called rules of culture that people abide by in any society. Not selling liquor to women or ladies is one such culture rule here is Sri Lanka. In some counties in the state of Austin in the U.S. sale and consumption of liquor are strictly prohibited based on the teachings of the Church. These are jokingly called ‘dry zones’. Nobody calls them ‘Islamic Republics’.

    Having a Muslim name does not one a license to revile Islam or Muslims. Islam has strictly forbidden the consumption of liquor and to Muslims that is final. No apologies there. A Muslim is required by his or her faith to stop or at least speak out against social evils like the consumption of liquor. Obviously Ms. Hussain does not take this aspect of her faith too seriously, that is assuming she is Muslim. You wouldn’t find even a drinking Muslim (and there are a few of them around) saying that drinking is not forbidden or that he’s doing the right thing when consuming liquor.

    The little Buddhism I know tells me the consumption of liquor is prohibited and if the ‘Mathata Thitha’ programme of President Mahinda Rajapaksa were to take hold among Buddhists, would Ms. Hussain then classify our country as the ‘Buddhist Republic of Sri Lanka’? Or would she have reservations on that score? I would be the first to welcome any foreigner to the Buddhist Republic of Sri Lanka with open arms if liquor (and gambling) is strictly prohibited in Sri Lanka. It will make Buddhist women happy with the knowledge that the money their husbands save will go to the feeding, education and general well being of their children and society at large. Not to mention the elimination of crimes like child abuse and deaths on the road caused by drunk drivers. Am I being a Muslim fundamentalist? Well, never mind. ]

    The writer must seek the views of the Mahanayaka prelates on this subject of allowing women to by liquor. Let’s see what they have to say, shall we?

    Hameed Abdul Karim

  • nadia

    As a lady I have never had a problem buying alcohol anywhere especially in Colombo. I agree that women need to voice their opinions more. We are engulfed in a ‘traditional’ culture that puts women down about what is appropriate to wear, to drink, or where to be seen or not seen. But with time the norm will change. Hopefully are next generation of politicians will be more liberal and more educated to move forward from the discrimination that we face.

    The country is facing a culture divide. Where the youngsters want are more western and the oldie goldies are desperate to cling on to ‘culture’. I see lots of women go clubbing and partying than ever before in this country. I also know that parents and adults are becoming more relaxed as well. So things are changing positively but slowly. And this will inject into policy making, society and culture, when, the pace, the effectiveness is another matter.

    Things to think about.
    Women are constantly hazed on the streets by men – from snide comments or to a whistle or even to down right violence. Some people think its a the girls fault for causing the unwanted attention with a skirt too short or a top too tight. And the rubbish women are fed here to believe that it is there fault is outrageous. From a young age women are told to behave a certain way or there will be social consequences. And I think that’s OUR fault. How many female activists have you seen rebelling against harassment here? To all women who read this post, if a man is taunting you in public, there is no point complaining about it if you don’t do anything about it. Im not saying you should start a campaign or a movement, but a simple act such as going to the closest police officer and explaining the situation or even yelling at the person back especially in a public setting is safe. Just make sure you do something or you’re just letting a douche bag get away with what he did and more importantly your not standing up for your rights. It is illegal to harass women here.

    I dress confidently, and I dont mind what people say but when it is necessary I will voice myself. Just make sure you do something. I understand that women who travel public have these issues daily and it can be dangerous to stand up to disgusting men. But thats a problem there itself right? A lot of things got to be done in this country. But when it is possible and when you believe you’re in a safe setting then please find the nearest help or say something back. Its important.