In the summer of 2016, I visited Uganda for the third time to conduct research on the sexual exploitation of young girls for my MSc dissertation under the umbrella degree Gender, Policy and Inequalities at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). I focused on how and why the sugar daddy phenomenon (when older men offer gifts to young girls in exchange for sex) had prevailed in rural areas, such as the Kanungu District, and investigated the success of prevention methods that have been put in place to diminish this sexual practice nationwide.
The “Sugar Daddy Awareness” (SDA) initiative, which was built on the Ugandan government’s HIV risk-reduction programme of Abstinence, Be faithful, use a Condom (ABC) as well as the Presidential Initiative on AIDS Strategy for Communicating to Youth (PIASCY), is a sex education programme taught in local primary schools in the Kanungu District, Uganda. This sex education programme, which was inaugurated in 2014, intends to tackle the prominent issues of: HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancies and early marriage by increasing children’s understanding of safe sex practices and the risks related to cross-generational/transactional sex. The aim of the initiative is to, ultimately, minimise risky sexual behaviour. However, this programme has not yet translated into effective practice as intended. In the last two years, teachers have experienced problems whilst conducting the SDA lessons, creating barriers in its implementation.
I carried out interviews and questionnaires with teachers, the schools’ inspector and the facilitator of the SDA lessons. Findings indicate that the main barriers for implementing the SDA lessons were: lack of resources/funding, lack of training, lack of time/support, and cultural attitudes. My research suggests that all the above factors are enveloped and affected by the level of poverty experienced in these rural social institutions which further perpetuates gender inequality.