SA women believe sugar daddies have the right to use violence
This is just one of the findings of research on women's perceptions of violence in inter-generational relationships
“You can talk about condoms [with younger men] while older men beat you for that.”
This comment by a young woman from Limpopo perfectly explains, if there was any doubt, why events such as Wednesday’s #TotalShutdown marches and next week’s National Women’s Day are not only relevant but necessary.
Researchers led by Naomi Lince-Deroche questioned a total of 110 young women in rural Limpopo and an urban area of Gauteng about their perceptions of gender-based violence in inter-generational relationships.Reporting their findings in the SA Medical Journal, Lince-Deroche said many of the women expressed a preference for older partners. “Younger men will be sending you ‘call-backs’ when an older man will send you airtime,” one teenager said.
But they admitted that while “sugar daddies” came with economic benefits, there were also downsides. “With older guys it is harder because sometimes you are scared to tell him to use a condom because he might hit you,” said a Limpopo woman.
When asking older men to use a condom or test for HIV, said a Gauteng teenager, “you are just scared that you may offend them because they are older, and then they end up hitting you”.A 17-year-old from Gauteng told the researchers it was difficult to get older men to use a condom, “more especially when your partner gives you money. Having sex with them is like a payment.”
Lince-Deroche, who worked for Ibis Reproductive Health when she led the study, said: “The young women acknowledged that they do not have power in relationships with older men, and that they must obey or risk violence or abandonment.
“They also expressed being particularly at risk for violence if they refused sex, proposed condom use, or questioned an older man regarding suspected infidelity.
“The young women also expressed a belief that if a man is providing for their financial needs, he has the right to use violence.”Most respondents had no strategy for avoiding violence, said Lince-Deroche, although one said: “When your boyfriend calls you to come see him, you must go and speak softly to him.”
Among the Gauteng participants, gender-based violence was “seen to be commonplace, an expected or normalised attribute of adult relationships”, she said.
“Many ... felt it was their responsibility to avoid violence by behaving in an ‘acceptable’ way. ‘Respect’ for one’s partner also emerged as a prevention strategy.“Unfortunately, although some of the respondents did suggest leaving an abusive partner, they were not in the majority. Very few ... objectively expressed the view that gender-based violence was intrinsically wrong and should not be tolerated.”