“Sinigurisha” (I am not for sale) warns against cross-generational sex involving both older men and women.
Sexual relationships between girls and older men [sugar daddies], and boys and older women [sugar mummies] often in exchange for gifts and money are very prevalent in developing countries including Rwanda.
There are almost 42 highly visible billboards across the country reminding young people of their right to say no to “Shuga Dadis” and “Shuga Mummies.”
“Our first phase was to raise Sinigurisha billboards, second were of the opinion writers such as leaders including police, teachers, church authorities and business leaders and we are planning to implement the third phase when we get target groups,” said Jean Marie Vianney Niyitegeka a Youth/HIV program coordinator a the Ministry of Youth.
“Some of these bill boards have been removed by those in charge because that phase is being finished, so don’t worry, target groups are trying to put out other phases,” Niyitegeka added.
Gaspard Habimana, 24 years, is a Senior Six vocational student at Bumanzi. He says its deceptive for older people to dress up to look attractive for young people.
“Sugar mummies dress like 16-year-olds and I think if we go back to our roots, where older people dressed appropriately, they could look less attractive and young men could look for partners who are within their age range,” Habimana says.
While some people argue that it is not wrong to have a sugar daddy/sugar mummy, while others think the situation should be treated on a case by case basis.
“Is it so wrong to go out with a sugar daddy? We should be careful not to judge because he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery’ also said ‘do not judge others,’ Habimana adds.
A shopkeeper at Kicukiro only known as Byagatonda said, “There is only one reason why a young person will date a sugar mummy/daddy—money.”
Byagatonda’s solution is to “create a better economy, more jobs for the young folks so that they can take care of their financial needs.”
Peace Murerwa is a mother of four children who says students should work harder to attain higher education standards.
“A better education standard allows students to gain access to higher-paying jobs since lower jobs earn little money that cannot meet their needs,” Murerwa said. Butera Richard is a 19-year-old high school student at St. Patrick Secondary School who says peer pressure is the reason why many students are involved in cross-generational relationships.
“There are pupils at my school who go out with sugar daddies, who teach them about sex very early,” said Butera.
Besides peer pressure and a permissive environment, the campaign identifies economic need as a major driver of cross-generational sex.
“When children can’t get something at home, like a phone, some go to these sugar daddies and sugar mummies and get it from them,” Butera added.
These billboards are meant to acknowledge to students that some of them are forced into transactional sexual relationships to finance their studies. In this way, Rwanda’s youth will get to know the consequences.
“These methods of self-financing can lead to premature sexual activity,” said Uwintegye Vienney, a 26-year-old final-year Marketing student in the School of Finance and Banking.
“But in a society where the subject remains taboo, this campaign is good because it directly warns both young and older people against such behavior. Cross-generational sex is having a negative impact on the health of youth and this affects their economic and social development,” said Uwintegye.
“Problems resulting from such relationships can jeopardize their future, and in turn hamper the development of our country,” he warns.