COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka has lifted a 39-year ban on women buying alcohol or working in places that sell or manufacture liquor, an official said yesterday. The 1979 law prohibiting the sale of any type of alcohol to women was overturned in an effort to strike sexist bills from the statute books, said a spokesman for the finance ministry. “The idea was to restore gender neutrality,” Ali Hassen said of the decision on Wednesday. The move also repeals a ban on women working in places where alcoholic drinks are made or sold, like bars. Liquor vendors are still forbidden to sell spirits to police or members of the armed forces in uniform, Mr Hassen said. It was unclear why the ban on women was imposed in the first place, but a finance ministry official said he believed it was intended to appease the consrvative Buddhist hierarchy at the time.