“Sugar dating” or “sugaring” is a similar concept. The performance of exchanging love and companionship between males and females for financial backing is basically ‘prostitution’, disguising under a much elegant name.
The founder of Sugarbook, Darren Chan who once said “if you’re not happy with the terms, you can always say no. Nobody is paying you to do the things you don’t want to do” is playing naïve. How could he ensure that nobody is abusing the terms, especially when a wealthy, high-ranked man is the sole supporter for an underprivileged girl and vice versa.
Sugaring should be made an offence punishable by law as it poses a great threat to underaged teenagers and college students. Although the act of pleasing well-established men is “purely consensual” due to a binding agreement made before the commission of sugaring, it’s the female counterparts who are always on the bad receiving end.
Kindly refer to WAFIQ writings before, I once mentioned that sugaring creates ‘open season’ for sexual offenders and adults carrying STDs who would use the app to prey on innocent girls. There are also numerous cases where adult women were beaten, sexually abused and financially scammed because they put all of their assurance on ‘sugar daddies’ or ‘sugar babies’. All of these body pain and emotional grievances for the price of what? RM2.5K?
Please remember that our Penal Code only prohibits prostitution and soliciting prostitution under Section 372 but not couple-matching services which offer beyond casual sexual relationships between partners. This is identical to Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 where providing an online service or application per se is not an offence however allowing inappropriate content can be charged under the said Act. One can only report and make complaints but unable to take them app creators or users behind bars.
Although criminal elements of coercion, force or extortion during sugaring can be penalised, the absence of a specific provision to include terms like ‘purchase of intimacy, sugaring, out-of-wed companionship’ in Section 372 or ‘match-making services’ under MCMC’s Act – means that a service provider like Sugarbook that promotes and enables the commission of abovementioned gestures and manipulation of young women can easily get away!
To add, the loophole that exists in Section 372B of Penal Code should be properly addressed. It only punishes women who deemed to solicit or importune for the purpose of prostitution but does not incarcerate men who reward their partner for the sexual act. My take is both parties who create room or perform ‘sex-work’ for self-pleasures should face equal reprehension.
Moreover, the previous call by Parliamentary Select Committees to amend Section 375 (f) in 2006 should be re-highlighted, with some relevant additions. The said amendment would further expand the meaning of aggravated rape, where the woman’s consent is obtained by using the man’s position of authority, professional relationship or other relationship of trust with her.
This provision should be enacted and applicable for both genders as a woman can also be a superior to men and offer luxurious reward for a simple act of love, not to mention sexual intercourse.
In contrast, ‘payment for companionship’ is somehow legal. Quite a few may think “But both parties consent what?” but don’t forget our kids, small nieces and nephews can’t give consent. Especially when they are now fully exposed to the Internet and could simply fake their profiles. Hence, it is the right time for our authorities to put the law in place so it can protect minors from online predators.
I have to agree with former Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development, Desmond Lee. He attacked Sugarbook with a perfect reasoning where he said that these “platforms commoditise and devalue relationships under the cover of a mutually beneficial arrangement”. Yes, the high possibility of cohabiting with a married man or woman shows how family institutions can also be ruined within the snap of a finger.
For parents, listen. When the culprits are caught by police, you’d figure it’s a dead end for them. But no, it’s actually worse – our children who enjoyed ‘companionship’ and increasing bank account balance will cease the opportunity to grow and lead a healthy happy life. So while waiting for the above laws to be amended, please give your kids as much care and affection you can give, tell them to always feel enough (Qanaah) and provide them with religious classes – before a grown, ‘understanding’ perverted man, Uncle or Grandpa do so.
As for a civilised society, we should plant this thought in our brain that ‘immorality means unlawful’, not otherwise. In essence, what we see as unethical, wrongful in the precepts of religion, unaccepted in a Constitutional Monarch country and most importantly, detrimental to the lives of the vulnerable units in the community – be made illegal and thus, be fairly punished under the law.
For my peers, hear me out.
If any, sugaring only degrades women. It does not, in any way, in whatever means empower or enable us to make wise decisions, or provide for a better life, what more to shield ourselves against potential sexual aggressors.
Why on earth should we place our trust, dignity and honor on a complete stranger who gives us money just the way our dad or guardians normally do? It is the duty of men to protect and provide because they are Qawwam (protector) but these protectors should be amongst our trusted family members, our father and brothers. If not, take Prophet Muhammad SAW as our core example, look at the life of his family and Sahabah, it will (hopefully) ease our hardship and worries.
If my advice is deemed as unacceptable then just follow what Allah SWT has ordained us to do. At all times, in every breath and step we take – Do not go near Zina. Do not attempt to, do not try to even download the app and seek a man just because you need the tickets to Hawaii, a BTS concert or purchase a full set of Sephora’s make-up.
May Allah SWT protect all of us from His Wrath.
Nur Farihah Meor Mazli
Youth & Media Exco
International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution & Quality Education (WAFIQ)