PETALING JAYA - Fancy having your own "sugar baby"? Thanks to the Internet, one can be yours - for as low as RM400 (S$150) a month.
This arrangement - in which rich "sugar daddies" pay attractive young girls for companionship and sex - are becoming increasingly common what with the availability of sugar daddy websites and online classified ads.
Posing as potential sugar daddies/mummies and sugar babies, reporters from The Star's R.AGE youth platform questioned several people online, including a university student who offered his companionship in return for a RM400 monthly allowance for sexual favours.
Others did not come that cheap - Form Six student Puteri, 18, from Ipoh, in her ad on a local classifieds website, asked for RM1,000 a month - sex included.
Another 23-year-old sugar baby from here, who counts several Datuks among her sugar daddies, charges RM500 for a single dinner date.
"It's difficult to maintain my lifestyle as it is, but I also want to have nice clothes and fancy meals. My friend's sugar daddy was able to give her all that, so I decided to try it too," said Puteri.
There are several websites specialising at matching sugar daddies/mummies to sugar babies.
Data from one of the websites shows that almost 50 per cent of its sugar babies were college students - up from 20 per cent in 2006.
Asked why more college students were opting for "sugar relationships", website founder Brandon Wade told R.AGE: "Firstly, most college students are single and actively dating.
"Secondly, the cost of college education continues to increase. Most students will graduate with a large amount of debt that will take years to pay off."
Sulastri Ariffin, programme manager of Social and Enabling Environment Development (SEED), an organisation that works with marginalised communities, said the Internet took away much of the risks posed to young sugar babies.
"Back in those days, the usual way (to find a sugar daddy) was to be a GRO at a club, drink with businessmen all the time, and see where it goes," said Sulastri, who has been giving counselling and support to sex workers since 1992. "It's safer and more efficient, online."
Sulastri said the desire for a better lifestyle seemed to be the main reason why more college students were turning to part-time sex work.
R.AGE also spoke to several young sugar daddies, including one who was willing to spend RM3,000 a month from his RM5,000 salary on his sugar baby.
Another sugar daddy, a 27-year-old manager, said: "Asians don't feel it's taboo anymore, so it's a lot easier to meet like-minded people."
Meanwhile, Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said this sugar daddy culture could lead to a lot of societal problems in the long run.