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Are Sponsorship and Prostitution Different?

by biasharadigest

It is a
seemingly good life for many. Some petite, others big while some are extremely successful
despite being young girls who come in all colours.

There is also
a drop of a man here and there to complete the world of sponsors in what one
report has christened Sugar Dating.

The report by
the Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics notes that there is an “exposure to and prevalence of
sponsorship relationships in Kenya is relatively high, particularly amongst
young women.”

Despite the illusion of luxury where some of the women interviewed said that the culture provides them with an opportunity to make money in a fun way that complements their student life, the ugly side of violence lurks.

Sex, Money and Instagram

Some of the women reported abuse and threats to their health as well as safety. However, most choose to overlook the violence monster since in the end, they have the keys to the high life which includes travelling, wining and dining in places they would otherwise not have been able to set foot in.

According to
the report, Sugar Dating: An
Investigation of ‘Sponsorship’ In Kenya
, Sh5,000 a month is all a woman in
campus to start what could become a lifestyle of receiving cash tokens for
whatever services they offer to their sponsors.

The sponsorship
prevalence is high at 20% but it is hidden with only 2% self-reporting that
these relationships exist. Peers however relatively accurately and easily
recognized the relationships with the estimated prevalence standing at 24%
among female university students.

The study shows that 1 in 5 women at the university in Nairobi (who participated in the study) currently have or have had a sponsor (20%).

Is sponsorship acceptable?

While it may sound attractive to some, the association between sponsorship and prostitution creates shame in being associated with having a sponsor.

61% of
participants agreed with the statement that “having a sponsor is shameful”
while 49% of participants considered sponsorship and prostitution to be
interchangeable.

81% of women
rejected this type of a relationship and when asked to rate the statement
“Sponsorship is cool”, 85% of participants disagreed.

Some 29% of
the respondents agreed that sponsorship was acceptable if true love was present

“As such,
love makes sponsored relationships more socially acceptable, but it is at the
same time a very uncommon part of these relationships.”

Violence
against women in Kenya remains common, with the national health survey of 2014
documenting that 39% of women in Kenya have experienced either physical or
sexual violence.

One in four women experiences violence every year with 14% of women experiencing both physical and sexual violence.

For married
women in particular, almost all violence is committed by their husbands
indicating that violence exists across different types of relationship
structures.

In the sugar dating scene, the sponsee is at larger risk because of their dependency on the sponsor’s money, which gives the sponsor an unequal amount of power in the relationship.

Jane Thiomi,
a regional manager at LCVT Health says, “The effect of sponsorship on the
sponsee is that from the get-go the sponsor has power in the relationship. The person
being sponsored, whether male or female, loses power in the relationship
because of their dependence on what the sponsor has to offer, in this case;
money.”

She adds that
sponsor relationships are not healthy relationships because they are not rooted
in love or affection.

“A sponsor
knows if he has money he has power.”

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