The phenomenon of â€œblessersâ€ â€“ wealthy men who promise (mostly young) women a life of luxury in exchange for sexual favours â€“Â is not new in South Africa. But it looks like the government considers them enough of a problem to do something about it. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that the ministry intends to spend R3 billion to tryÂ and keep young women away from sugar daddies, in a bid to combat teenage pregnancy and HIV infections. LIZEKA MADUNA spoke to a few Durban women to find out what they think of the new campaign.
Slindile Dube, 22, student, Durban
Almost every female student is familiar with the trend because it affects them the most. We are at the institutions and the rate of peer pressure is so high that we often forget who we are. Blessers are sugar daddies who have been branded with a new term which makes the phenomenon sound more right, whereas itâ€™s immoral. The issue of sugar daddies preying on young girls doesnâ€™t call for the government. Instead of splurging money on a campaign that wonâ€™t work, Minister Motsoaledi should consider using that money for other health-related campaigns. It will take a single young woman to say enough is enough with sugar daddies.
Nokthula Mabuza, 21, student, Durban
This trend doesnâ€™t affect anyone since it doesnâ€™t force anyone into anything;instead itâ€™s entertaining to young women. Obviously as students we need someone to take care of our needs. Since this is something people do out of their own will, nothing will stop it, not even the government. The campaign might be a step towards ending all the madness but truth is, it will lay low for a while but it will never end. Instead these sugar daddies will then be called boyfriends and if thatâ€™s the case, no one will say anything. Itâ€™s only women themselves who can end the craze of this silly trend.
Silindile Ntombela, 21, student, Durban
Young women have been warned about sugar daddies and the risk of getting HIV/AIDS years before this trend, but that hasnâ€™t prevented them from sleeping with older men. Some of these so-called blessers are married men who have problems back at home and are preying on young vulnerable girls. It seems that young women have forgotten about the dire consequences associated with sleeping with old men, and it will take more than just a campaign to get them off the sugar daddies. What the minister is doing is a great first step but it should begin with oneself if we really want sugar daddies to fall.
Kwandokuhle Njoli, 23, student, Durban
Itâ€™s funny how social media uses silly terms and trends to entertain and lure young women into a trap of sugar daddies. The fact that these blessers are sugar daddies, young girls will still fall pregnant and be infected with diseases. Young girls want blessers because they are impressionable and social media presents lavish lifestyles to them that will have negative results at the end. Because everyone wants to go to Dubai and have beautiful quality clothes, they fall into a trap. When these old men are done with them, they are all alone, and some with babies. Itâ€™s about time we as the society fight against the bane of sugar daddies.
Nomfundo Ngcobo, 19, student, Durban
We are all familiar with prostitution,Â therefore we are familiar with this trend because itâ€™s prostitution at its best. They can refer to it with these silly terms, but whoever knows sex work will know that this is exactly what this whole blessers trend is all about. Old men must get their hands off us, we are young and have a future ahead of us. Luring us into the web of lavish but unrealistic life is wrong. However, women should also pride themselves about femininity, why are we allowing men to objectify us? Itâ€™s not as if we are incapable of being our own self-blessers. Only women can change the way men treat them; not a campaign which seeks to spend millions.
Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
Featured image via Flickr