India, a developing, overpopulated country where 6% of the population lives in poverty, 9.7% urban unemployment, 25.6% illiteracy rate, one of the youngest population countries in the world beholding fifth of the youths globally. Youths are a vital part of the population. 2 of the biggest red-light areas i.e.,Sonagachi and Kamathipura are in India.
Recently, India topped the sugar dating culture in Asia with 3,38,000 sugar daddies. Due to the pandemic, inequality, high unemployment, billionaires’ evergrowing wealth lead to ‘Sugar Dating’ a popular growing phenomenon in Asia, especially India. The Oxfam report titled ‘The Inequality Virus’ stated “It would take an unskilled worker 10,000 years to make what the Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited Mukesh Ambani made in an hour during the pandemic and three years to make what he made in a second.” It also stated that India’s top 100 billionaires’ wealth increased to such an extent during the pandemic that if divided equally, it could translate to over Rs 94,000 each for 138 million of India’s poorest. A leading sugar dating app said Mumbai leads with 6,246 sugar babies and 21,464 sugar daddies, followed by New Delhi with 3,447 sugar babies and 13,127 sugar daddies.
With education becoming a business, a common human cannot afford the fees of top universities. Increasing educational debts makes a student live in a shoe-box with an unforeseeable future and not let the student enjoy life. “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin, Naturalist.
Sugaring is a mutually beneficial relationship where the elder one showers luxury, money,etc. to the younger one who is financially unstable in return of fulfilling intimate desire (sexually or non sexually). The origin of sugar dating is intriguing. The earliest were the royal mistresses who was financially supported by the monarch. The term started gaining popularity in early and mid 20th century. A chocolate salesman, Robert Welch named a candy as ‘Papa Sucker’ and later on changed to ‘Sugar Daddy’. Hollywood started introducing the term is music and theatre. Laurel and Hardy in ‘Sugar Daddies’ or ‘Sugar Daddy’ song written by Christine McVie.
Most of the society assumes that sugar babies are lazy to work. For sugar babies it is not always about being materialistic, it is about paying off student loans, rents, bills etc. They also do regular jobs like common people. Sugar babies are visualized as young, attractive, size 0; the society’s definition of being perfect and beautiful. That is a myth. Sugar babies exist irrespective of race, color, size, gender etc. Often, scams where the elder lures the younger one into a cashtrap in exchange of sex, nothing more. Nothing different than sex work.
Source – CNBC
Today, the mastermind behind sugar dating – Brandon Wade, an American Businessman, CEO of SeekingArrangement – the most preferred dating site says, “Traditional relationships are based on possessiveness and selfishness. As I look at the future of traditional relationships, I see divorces, heartbreaks and broken families.”
A sugar relationship is not similar to prostitution. A financial support is offered in sugar dating. Whereas, money is offered in prostitution where there is no connection, understanding and expectation. Sugar daddy/ mommy is like a sponsorer. They give gifts and allowance to the sugar baby. Prostitution is a transaction of sex for money.
India is the second highest with 3 million prostitutes led by China – 5 million+ and followed by US – 1 million with 40 – 42 million sex workers globally. Prostitution is legal in India, but it does have various restrictions. For instance, running brothels is a crime in India under ‘The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956’. Such an irony it is! There are illegal brothels running in the red-light areas. It is a controversial topic. There is a very thin line between legality and illegality of prostitution and related activities. The laws related to the same in The Constitution are vague and not specific. In Ecuador prostitution and related activities is completely legal. Whereas, in Germany, sex workers are provided benefits like pension and health insurance.
Today, the world is not a safe place. People at brothels, especially women are mistreated. The death rate of female in prostitution is higher than those of not in prostitution. Sex workers are vulnerable. These women face exploitation, trauma, physical and mental health issues like PTSD and bipolar disorders. They are powerless in front of their clients who are often termed as ‘pimps’ and ‘johns’. Prostitutes are victim of physical violence, sexual assault, threats, drug abuse, verbal abuse, rape, isolation etc. It is their right to legally complain against these heinous crimes done to them. But they are afraid for numerous reasons such as none will believe them, they will be considered as a taboo to the society, they will feel ashamed as they want none to know that they are working as prostitutes, they will be arrested etc.
Source – Half the sky movement
There have been incidents where the prostitutes have been brutally tortured and beaten to death repeatedly for hours and when they file an F.I.R., no legal actions are taken. Rather they are slut-shamed and humiliated by the legal authorities. In India, prostitutes are faced with verbal abused by the law enforcers and forced to pay bribes to them at times. Hence, their trust from the government has vanished. Sex workers are not protected by the law many times.
June 2 is celebrated as International Whores’ Day or International Sex Workers’ Day to honor sex workers and exploitation faced by them. It commemorates when sex workers and supporters took over the church in Lyon, France. The protest was against the atrocities, discrimination and violence by the law authority.
Source – Seeking arrangement
Many works for money for their basic survival and it is termed as ‘Survival Sex Work’. It’s common in the USA, Canada, Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, etc. In the LGBT community, street children are likelier to adapt to Survival sex. Poverty is on the rise in South Africa. As per the UN, 1 in 5 are living in extreme poverty. Most of the sex workers here are poor, black, and female and sell their bodies to support their children and meet basic needs. Various factors like minimal educational opportunities, poverty lead to child prostitution, sex slaves, etc. in countries like this. No one is going to sell their body unless circumstances force them to.
The whole idea of mistreating prostitutes comes from a very narrow-minded idea that having sex is bad which is not. It is a form of pleasure. Some people need to sell their bodies for basic needs. It is difficult to get a job in big cities like Mumbai and New York. Hence, becoming a sugar baby is considered easy money.
Life is not always about sugar and spices. It’s about survival. Powerful ones win. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and equality. Whether it is a sex worker or a business person, their basic human rights cannot be harmed. Surviving in today’s fast-growing world and meeting the end need is grueling for a common man. The wealthy ones are willing to pay any amount for the increase in the supply of goods and services. Richer got richer. But, what about the middle human?
Written By- Khushi Shah
Edited By- Ginia Chatterjee