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Inside the minds of sugar babies

PremiumBy Quang Huong   May 10, 2022 | 05:46 pm PT
Bao Nhi admits she joined the private online group chat 'Sugar Luxury Saigon' about a month ago to find men who could offer her money in exchange for companionship.

Despite earning VND10-12 ($435-522) million per month at a cosmetic center, the 22-year-old single woman from HCMC lives paycheck to paycheck because all of her money goes toward paying rent and caring for her 50-year-old mother, who has cerebrovascular diseases.

Her married older brother has two children and a family of his own to take care of.

Nhi claims she is willing to enter into a committed relationship with a sugar daddy who can provide her VND15-20 million a month and generally support her financially "as long as he is polite and gentle, has proper hygiene and is an average-looking man who is not older than 45 years old."

Nhi is among a growing number of women who are turning to sugar dating online, believing it is a quick and easy way to earn money.

Sugar babies are typically young, attractive people who are looking for older, wealthier partners who will shower them with gifts, cash and a luxurious lifestyle. Sugar daddies are wealthy men who spend freely on a younger person in return for companionship or sexual intimacy.

Typing sugar baby or sugar daddy on Facebook throws up dozens of groups often with thousands of members.

Authorities dismiss the whole thing as just another form of prostitution.

Duong Nguyen Chinh of the Ministry of Public Security’s criminal investigation department said with the advances in technology more and more young women looking for money are getting into sex work and advertise on sugar dating online portals.

"Sugar daddies looking for sex or companionship can now easily find prostitution on social networks" with sugar dating becoming increasingly common and mainstream, he added.

Recently the police have uncovered many sugar dating networks.

Vu Nguyen Nhat Vy, who was arrested on April 22, 2022 for brokering sex services. Photo by VnExpress/Tuong Van

Vu Nguyen Nhat Vy, who was arrested on April 22, 2022, for brokering sex services. Photo by VnExpress/Tuong Van

The HCMC police arrested Vu Nguyen Nhat Vy, 22, last month for running a sex ring with 1,500 women, mostly college students.

She would charge her clients, mostly middle-aged men, VND3-25 million ($130-1,100) for sex, VND6-50 million if it is overnight, VND10-25 million a day for a "sex tour," and VND15-50 million for having sex six to eight times a month. For an extra VND1 million, clients were allowed to choose a woman.

The police said Vy made at least VND200 million.

Earlier this year the Hanoi police busted a sugar dating ring with 4,000 members and arrested a man in Cau Giay District last October for facilitating prostitution by connecting sugar babies with sugar daddies.

Many young women struggling financially, including university students, become sugar babies to fix their money problems.

A 25-year-old in HCMC who calls herself Mira is currently in a relationship with a sugar daddy to save enough money to pursue her dream of studying overseas.

"I need money for documents to study abroad."

She has a job as a manager at a beauty salon and earns VND18-50 million a month.

"Currently I only have VND60 million while the paperwork will cost around $10,000 and the fees another $11,000."

Getting a bad rap

Many sugar babies believe sugar dating is a mutually beneficial relationship and should not get the bad rap that it is.

Mira argues that it is just like any other romantic relationship, which also often involves sex.

"I don't think it is a big deal since dating a sugar daddy is like having a boyfriend before getting married. Since I have a high sex drive, this kind of relationship suits me."

Since she has an "open" and "westernized" lifestyle, she does not care or worry about what other people say about her, she claims.

Echoing her, Nhi says she does not think the relationship with her sugar daddy is problematic.

"It is as normal as other relationships since I stay committed to my sugar daddy and do not cheat on him with other guys.

"In addition to money, sugar dating also entails love and sex."

Hoang Diem, 24, believes sugar dating helps improve her sex skills just like a normal relationship and she only needs to properly protect herself.

"I think having good sex skills is not a bad thing and will help keep my marriage with my future husband sexually alive."

The National Assembly discussed preventing sugar dating and prostitution around a decade ago.

At that time Bui Sy Loi, a lawmaker, said authorities should punish both suppliers and clients.

Hoa Nguyen of Hanoi's Ha Dong District says she used to date a sugar daddy who provided her a "steady" income of VND15 million per month.

But after four months his wife learned about it, the 23-year-old stopped seeing the man and is now looking for a new relationship.

"I am looking for a polite man who respects me and my privacy and wants to play safe."

Unlike Diem, Hoa admits she is concerned her future husband might one day discover her past.

"I will understand if my future husband does not accept my past."

She is aware of what she is doing but "cannot stop it," she says.

 
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