Social factors draw people to unhealthy activities

Social factors draw people to unhealthy activities

KUALA LUMPUR: Many people dream of living in style and luxury and owning branded products. However, when such a lifestyle is beyond one’s means, one is tempted to go astray for material gains.

Sugar dating is one such avenue where young women enter into an agreement with much older men to offer them companionship, friendship and even sexual favours in exchange for cash and costly gifts.

Last month, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission blocked access to Sugarbook, one of the main sugar dating websites in the country, but that did not spell the end of the sugar baby, sugar daddy issue in Malaysia. This is because as long as there is demand for such services, there will be supply as well.

Sharing his views, social expert Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran put forward the theory of social problems to unravel the issue.

This theory is used to explain matters related to activities and behaviour, both positive and negative, in a society, he said, adding that it was coined by international sociologists after carrying out observations on behavioural patterns in a society.

He said according to the theory, people find themselves drawn to unhealthy activities due to several factors, including exposure to certain scenarios and situations over a period of time, for example, three months or more, which makes them more susceptible to getting involved in the same activity they have been observing.

Another factor is economic hardship which can force one to indulge in an unhealthy activity to earn some money. Other factors include society’s perception of success which they equate with material accomplishments, as well as lack of moral support from one’s circle of friends, family and relatives.

Applying the theory of social problems in the context of the sugar baby issue, Mohammad Shatar said the young generation are easily ensnared in the world of sugar daddies who promise them a life of luxury and shower them with money and branded items.

Since most of them are girls and are still in the college- or university-going phase, the only way they can lead the life they dream of and win the admiration of others is by getting themselves a sugar daddy. Thus, they will not think twice about selling their dignity to lecherous men, he added

Sex Education

Mohammad Shatar, however, does not subscribe to the perception that most sugar babies are in the business because they need the money to pay their college fees.

“Their excuse doesn’t make sense to me because many institutions of higher learning in Malaysia offer financial aid and scholarships to needy students. They are using the need to pay their college fees as an excuse to legitimise their immoral activities,” said Mohammad Shatar, who is the chief executive officer of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.

He also opined that parents should teach their children sex education instead of leaving this task entirely to their teachers. Since sex education is known to lead to safer behaviour, children who are exposed to it early in their lives are bound to exercise caution and prevent themselves from getting involved in indecent activities.

“Sex education is as important as formal education. Since children spend most of their time at home rather than with their teachers, it is their joint responsibility (to expose them to sex education),” he said, adding that it can be taught via activities in the form of games and non-formal education.

He also said since it is not easy for parents to directly monitor their children’s activities, they should get the help of their (children’s) friends to keep them posted on their activities.

“Parents should also monitor their children’s use of (mobile) gadgets. They should also try to pay surprise visits to their (university-going) children’s rented house or college residence to see if they are hiding anything from them,” he added.

Mohammad Shatar also urged the so-called sugar daddies to repent and use their influence and financial stability to help people in need and empower the younger generation.

“Our self-interests are ultimately insignificant compared to our mission of helping to develop the nation and the younger generation who are our future leaders,” he said.

Trivial

Social and organisational development expert Haikal Zulkefli, meanwhile, said the sugar baby, sugar daddy issue has been entrenched in society for a long time but the people and authorities concerned have chosen to turn a blind eye to what was happening.

He said he found it sad that many people still regard this issue as trivial while others hurl invective at the perpetrators but do not offer any suggestion on what steps to take to curb such activities.

“We know in general that most of them (sugar babies) are undergraduates who, by right, should be focusing on their studies so that they can contribute their services to society after graduating,” he said.

Haikal said he himself knew of a girl who was a sugar baby and after investigating her background, he found that she held two or three part-time jobs to support her siblings’ education.

Haikal, who is an associate officer at Philandure Sdn Bhd, said the fact that not every person is lucky enough to lead a comfortable life reflects the importance of developing a more sustainable social system.

Social system development refers to how each member of society can work together to develop one’s sense of identity and dignity, starting with each individual, he said.

“Marginalised issues such as this (sugar baby) can have huge implications on the people. In the past, prostitution was limited to dark alleys but now, it has become interactive with the use of mobile phone applications.

“In the case of sugar babies, not all of them sell their bodies, but they are all selling their dignity for the sake of money. This is wrong because our religion places importance on dignity,” he added. -Bernama