Two sides to a coin
According to World Population review (2021) 56.80% of Sierra Leone’s population lives in poverty. Most cannot afford 1 dollar meal a day. With these stats, you wonder how young girls from humble backgrounds are surviving. It is no surprise, cases of paedophilia are rising and young girls dating married men or having “sugar daddies” is becoming the norm.
There are homes in Sierra Leone where young girls who are still studying are the breadwinners. They are their family’s meal ticket; their “Mabinty”. And with no job, skilled training, they can only rely on men, which exposes them to predators who are waiting to prey on young vulnerable girls.
Here is a story of two 20-year-olds who are in a relationship with older men for different reasons.
Aminata, age 20 is a third-year university student studying sociology at Fourah Bay College. She lives with her partially blind mother and two siblings, having lost her father five years past. Aminata standing at 5ft 8 inches with her heart shaped face, pointed nose and slim-thick figure is the centre of attention at any gathering. The light skinned beauty reserved personality never goes unnoticed. She is a very passionate young woman and a romantic. She dreams of having a love life experience with a guy in her age bracket. However, due to the responsibilities towards her family, she settled for an affair with a man who not only has 3 decades on her but is also married. He pays her fees and that of her siblings, a monthly allowance, pays the rent for their 3-bedroom flat. When Aminata is in the midst of her friends and they’re discussing their love lives, she tends to stay quiet on the said topic because, not only is it a given to stay quiet as it is morally wrong, but also, she is not in it for love, rather for the financial support it provides. Aminata intends to quit as soon as she graduates and secured a job.
Monica with her voluptuous figure is the life of the party. A second-year Social work student at Fourah Bay College. Brash, loud, loves attention and seeks it. Monica comes from a well-to-do background; fees always paid on time, is given daily lunch and transport fare. Therefore, one can think she would be content, but her unaffordable lifestyle, and peer group pressure, led her into an affair with a married man old enough to pass as her father. She is neither ashamed nor embarrassed of it. In fact, Monica is proud of herself, reason being, she always has the latest phone, goes to expensive hotels and restaurants, and wears the latest fashion trends. Monica said she doesn’t care how old a man is as long as they can give her what she wants.
Although there are girls who date men old enough to be their fathers due to their families’ dire situations, others do it just so they can have someone sponsor a lifestyle they themselves cannot afford. With the flashy, bogus, flamboyant lifestyle display on social media, it takes a content mind not to be persuaded or succumb to social media pressure. The need to have the latest iPhone, latest fashion trend, eat at newly opened fancy restaurants just to take pictures and post on social media is becoming a menace.
By Fatmata Sesay
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