By Carol Natukunda
THE Population Service International yesterday launched a campaign against cross-generational sex, commonly known as the â€œsugar daddyâ€ phenomenon.
Cross-generational sex means a sexual relationship between a young girl and a much older man, with an age difference of 10 years or more.
The campaign was launched in response to several studies which showed that the HIV prevalence rate among girls aged between 15 and 24 was four times higher than in boys of the same age.
â€œResearch studies have attributed the high prevalence rate to cross-generational sex.
A study revealed that 10% of the girls have sexual intercourse with older men. In another study, 20% had been in this relationship, while 50% believed it was normal. These statistics demonstrate the big problem,â€ the country director, Rodio Diallo, said yesterday during the launch of the campaign at Makerere University.
The Nnabagereka of Buganda, Sylvia Nagginda, called for the abolition of cultural practices, which influence girls to have relationships with older men.
â€œCross-generational sex will cost you a future. They make you prone to unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. In the Ganda culture, abstinence and virginity were highly respected.
However, they are being discarded because of the western influence.
â€œWe have to discourage those bad cultural practices and promote good ones. Culture is not static, we must discourage the bad ones and stop them,â€ Nagginda said.
â€œEven if you had sex already, it is not too late to abstain. We embrace abstinence as a way of life. Girls, your worth is much more than those petty gifts (from older men). How do you want to be seen in future? Would you want to be seen begging or would you rather be independent?â€ the Nnabagereka asked.
Earlier, the former ethics minister, Miria Matembe, argued that cross-generational sex was broader as it was embraced by several cultures.
â€œThe root cause of this is our traditional and cultural practices which undermine girls as sex objects.
â€œYou are 50 and you are looking at a girl aged 16. These early marriages in Ankole, Busoga and Islam; what do you call that?â€ Matembe wondered.
â€œThe fight must be broader for the culture of materialism to be broken down, not only at Makerere but the whole nation. What havenâ€™t we seen in leadership? Corruption, greed and materialism; and do you blame the young girls? They are following suit!â€ she added.
The campaign will be implemented in universities and about 50 secondary schools countrywide to empower young women.