The “Sugar Baby” Phenomenom: What the Modern Sugar Baby and Mail-Order Bride Have in Common

Editor’s Note:  Have you heard about this – another form of human trafficking, preying on indebted college students who are unable to pay their student loans. 

Recent articles regarding the “Sugar Baby” trend, where debt-burdened young people seek romantic relationships with older individuals for financial compensation, have portrayed these arrangements as a new and modern phenomenon.  These journalists have a point: college students entering into these relationships are a byproduct of the onerous cost of education in 21st Century America.  In a broader sense, however, the Sugar Baby craze is merely the newest installment of an age-old quest to seek salvation from economic deprivation.

The language used by these sugar baby matching sites is eerily reminiscent of International Marriage Brokers (IMBs) that are more commonly known as “mail-order bride” services. Both types of services emphasize that they are simply facilitating mutually beneficial relationships among consenting adults.

Meanwhile, IMBs produce marketing campaigns, which advertise “traditional” and “old-fashioned” foreign brides. There is an implicit understanding that the women advertised by an IMB are desperate and therefore willing to tolerate a high level of abuse.  Accordingly, predatory men are particularly susceptible to these marketing campaigns and make up a disproportionately high segment of IMB clientele.

The resulting mismatches have led to high levels of domestic violence.  The Tahirih Justice Center’s Campaign to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation through the International Marriage Broker Industry have identified at least a dozen cases of murders or attempted murders in which the victim had met her abuser through an IMB.

Anyone considering becoming a sugar baby should be aware of the high risks that they are taking on. Although websites like are marketing the concept of the “modern sugar daddy” as a person that will be able to “pamper” the sugar baby, they simply mask the fact that these relationships are inherently imbalanced and can lead them to be in potentially abusive relationship.

However, there are ways you can help. If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for assistance. And if you or someone you know is engaged in commercial sex against their will or is under the age of 18, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.

Source:  The North Star – The Polaris Project Blog )

This entry was posted in Here At Home, U.S. and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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