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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid