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Kenya bans shisha, Sri Lanka amends 60-year-old law to permit sale of alcohol to its women

 Sri Lanka is amending its law to allow women take alcohol. In Kenya, the government has banned shisha. Photo|Courtesy

In over 60 years, women in Sri Lanka were not allowed to legally buy alcohol.

The government has, however, said that it is amending the 1955 law that prohibited women from buying alcohol terming it discriminatory.

The amendment of the law was announced on Wednesday by Sri Lanka Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

As reported by BBC, the new law will also permit women to work in places where alcohol is sold.

Sri Lankan women have mostly welcomed the move, shown their backing and thanked their government for making the decision.

Under the new regulation, Sri Lankan women will no longer need to get state approval for them to drink and take up job opportunities in premises trading in alcohol, including restaurants.

While the amendment has been widely accepted across the Asian country, a faction argues that it is likely to get more women consuming alcohol thus more cases of addiction in a country where most of the women have always opted not to consume alcohol as they take it to be contrary to their Sri Lankan culture.

 A lady smoking shisha. Photo|Courtesy

The move by the Sri Lankan government can be contrasted to the Kenyan case where the importation, manufacture, sale and consumption of shisha has been banned.

While the women of Sri Lanka are being allowed to start legally consuming alcohol after 60 years, their Kenyan counterparts, the main shisha consumers according to a report by Tobacco Control Board, are being barred from consuming shisha.

The fruit flavoured water-pipe tobacco is mainly consumed by young people, mainly ladies, frequenting up-town clubs where shisha smoking has been synonymous.

“The ban is purely driven by public health interest which is the golden thread that runs through all the laws,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Cleapa Mailu reiterating the move. Kenya is now the third East African country to ban the substance after Rwanda and Tanzania.

The ban gazetted by the Ministry of Health is founded on the need to protect and enforce public health from the harmful effects and practices linked with the consumption of shisha.

Responding to cases filed in court seeking to have the ban lifted, the ministry pointed out that there were reports that the smoke coming from shisha contained chemicals that are harmful even to the non-consumers who are working in the places where shisha is sold.

The ban on shisha came after the Tobacco Control Board raised alarm that the number of women consuming the substance was on the rise. This was followed by Nakuru County warning bar owners in the county against the promotion of shisha smoking in undesignated places.

Shisha is a glass-bottomed water-pipe where fruit flavoured tobacco is covered in a coil and roasted with hot charcoal.

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