How Young Students Are Using Asian 'Sugar Daddy' Sites to Clear Debt

Photo of Michelle Leong
18 January 2018

When it comes to dating, it’s not about the sweet life — it’s about the sugar.

At least, that’s what new Malaysia-based sugar dating site, TheSugarBook, thinks. Launched in December 2016, this networking platform aims to link young, attractive individuals with financially successful professionals and executives.

Let’s face it: this isn’t a new phenomenon. People have been engaging in ‘mutually beneficial’ relationships since the dawn of Homo Sapiens (perhaps before that, too), and there are plenty other, more established, money-meets-love dating sites in the wide, catch-all virtual net of the world.

What is new, though, is TheSugarBook’s marketing ploy aimed at the student population in Southeast Asia.

Its snazziest line right now? “Discover the modern way to avoid student loan debt.”

‘Sugar daddies’ or ‘mommies’ are expected to pay for treats, gifts, luxurious dinners, exclusive parties, even living expenses and tuition fees. In return, ‘sugar babies’ are expected to be young, good-looking, and ‘pampered’.

Under the new student program, prospective members are even entitled to free premium memberships — as long as they register with their university email addresses, or are otherwise able to show proof of university enrolment.

While the dating site is not gender-specific, it is generally expected that those who are financing the relationship will be men.

June Goh, president of Singapore Council of Women’s Organizationsc, said that this ‘totally contravenes’ the idea of an education, and that the dating app actually exposes young women to exploitation, stigma, abuse, and untold psychological damage.

Marine Parade PRC MP (Member of Parliament) Seah Kian Peng called on relevant authorities to check on the legality of sugar dating platforms like TheSugarBook.

Fellow MP Tin Pei Ling also expressed her distress. “We should not let those profit-seekers capitalise on the vulnerability of our youth and exploit them,” she said.

At 28,500 users, Malaysian daters make up the majority of TheSugarBook’s 75,000 membership count. Singapore comes at a close second, while the rest are from the Philippines, the United States, and India. 70% of users are women.

The typical ‘sugar baby’ user is 19 to 33 years old, while ‘sugar daddies’ are usually 30 to 45 years old.

Guess who foots the high registration fees? That’s a no-brainer, really.

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