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Welile Mlilo, "The sugar daddies say they can give me what I want"

Black diamonds - young empowered urban South Africans.
Wealth can increase HIV risk (Anthony Kaminju/IRIN)

Welile Mlilo, 19, lives with her mother in Manzini, Swaziland's commercial hub, where she does odd jobs to support the two of them. She told IRIN/PlusNews that one of her biggest challenges was avoiding HIV in a country with the world's highest prevalence rate.

"My mother says my beauty is a blessing and a curse - one day, I will find a good man who likes me and wants to marry me. But there are men who come up to me all the time, and that way is trouble.

"The sugar daddies bother me all the time - they say I am pretty. They say they will give me things, things I like. They all have cars. They see me walking, they drive up and say they will give me money, or a meal, or a cell phone. I tell them, 'No'.

"You can't have anything to do with that because you can die - there is HIV all around. I only have one life. If you wreck the one life you have, you are not given another one - my mother says that.

"I have things I want to do with my life, I have dreams. I am not in school but I want to go back to school, that is why I am working.

"I have two older brothers and an older sister. They used to help us with money, but not now. I stopped going to school because there was no money for school fees. I have just found a job as a house cleaner. I want to put half away to save for school, the other money I give to my mother for the house.

"The sugar daddies say they can give me what I want and I don't have to work, but it's not what I want to do with my life. These men are old! Do you know some of them are 40? Some are 38.

"Sometimes they talk to my friends. They tell my friends to ask me to come to them, and they will give me this and that. Do you know that some of these sugar daddies, if you don't give them pleasure like they want they will beat you? It's true.

"I don't like going hungry and I am sad because it's hard getting an education, and that is holding me back. But I have my family and lots of friends."


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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