News / Africa

Study: Small Grants Can Protect SAF Teenage Girls from HIV

FILE - A billboard highlighting the dangers of young women being lured into sex-for-cash by older men is seen in Durban, South Africa.
FILE - A billboard highlighting the dangers of young women being lured into sex-for-cash by older men is seen in Durban, South Africa.

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A new study shows that alleviating poverty can help protect South African teenage girls from HIV/AIDS. It says small, monthly government grants allow girls to live more normal lives and avoid the advances of older men. The older men are called sugar daddies. They’ve got cash and use it to lure poor girls into having sex with them.


“Throughout sub-Saharan Africa teenage girls face a huge risk, which is poverty. And many of them really struggle to pay for basic things in their families, like food. So, about 25 percent of the children in our sample don’t have enough to eat in their families for at least two days in the past week,” said Dr. Lucie Cluver, associate professor at Oxford University and the University of Cape Town and the lead author of the study.

Associate Professor Lucie Cluver says government grants to poor South African teenage girls can protect them from some HIV risks. Courtesy: Oxford UniversityAssociate Professor Lucie Cluver says government grants to poor South African teenage girls can protect them from some HIV risks. Courtesy: Oxford University
x
Associate Professor Lucie Cluver says government grants to poor South African teenage girls can protect them from some HIV risks. Courtesy: Oxford University
Associate Professor Lucie Cluver says government grants to poor South African teenage girls can protect them from some HIV risks. Courtesy: Oxford University
But Cluver said going hungry is just one of the problems they face.

“One of the biggest reasons that girls talk about having older boyfriends – or having transactional sex or sugar daddies – is because they need to pay school fees and they need to provide food for their family. And that’s especially bad when someone is ill in their family. So if they’re living with a grandmother who’s old and very frail or if they’re living with someone who’s very sick with HIV/AIDS or something else, then it’s even harder because they have to support that person.”

Boys do not face the same burden.

Cluver said, “Really it’s about the market. It’s a buyers and a sellers market. What you do get is older men who have access to cash, who are looking for younger girlfriends. You just don’t seem to see the sugar mommy syndrome, where you would have an older woman and a younger boy. You just don’t seem to see it.”

Some people may have the wrong impression about why teenage girls have sugar daddies or older boyfriends.

“A lot of what people have talked about when they talk about transactional sex and sugar daddies has been seeing teenage girls as choosing to have these older boyfriends because they give them nice toiletries and hair stuff and cellphones and luxuries. So they’ve seen it as something that these girls have been choosing to do because they’re aspirational – because they’re trying to, you know, look like Beyoncé,” she said.

The average age of the more than 3,500 South African girls interviewed for the study is 14.

Cluver said the South African government has expanded an older grant program. It now provides child support grants of about $35 a month to 11 million children under age 18.

“In a sub-Saharan African country, we have a government grant system that provides for every child who is poor and who needs the money. When I started working as a social worker in the early 2000s, that grant system was originally designed for white families under Apartheid. And they moved it to cover all families who are in need, so, including the huge populations of black and colored families in South Africa,” she said.

The South African government also provides foster child grants of $96 a month to about 600,000 people. But Cluver said many needy children are still not yet covered by the program.

In Malawi and Tanzania, studies show that grants or cash transfers can have a positive effect. For example, in Malawi, cash transfers to girls resulted in a lower HIV prevalence rate. A big reason is that girls start dating boys their own age, who are less likely than older men to be infected with the AIDS virus.

But the grant system is not perfect. The study says grants do not reduce other kinds of risks for girls, such as the likelihood of having unprotected sex or having sex while drunk. And the grant system does not reduce the HIV risk for boys.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid