Controversial sugar dating company eyes NZ

NZ Herald 24 February 2019
Family First Comment: Disturbing.
“Family First’s Bob McCoskrie said relationships based on “purchasing a friendship” would always be problematic and artificial.”

A company which links up older men offering younger women cash and other rewards in exchange for dates is looking to set up base in New Zealand.

SugarBook runs a sugar dating app and claims to have 10,000 members signed up in New Zealand.

Its Malaysian creator and chief executive Darren Chan, 31, said it wanted to extend its online service to set up an office in New Zealand and Australia because of the “rising trend of sugar relationships down under”.

Critics say the arrangements are little different to prostitution and it has sparked concerns about young women being exploited and abused.

Sugarbook is being watched by police in Singapore and accused of facilitating illegal prostitution in Malaysia.

Sugar dating is where an older man or woman spends large amounts of money on a younger girlfriend or boyfriend in exchange for a relationship.

Gifts received by sugar babies interviewed by the Herald on Sunday previously included breast enhancements, watches, handbags, business class travel and regular cash transfers.

Dame Catherine Healy of the NZ Prostitutes Collective said sugar relationships were “just another form of sex work”.

“They may be using a facade that sugar babies are not related to sex work … but sex is definitely a key element of sugar relationships,” she said.

Healy believed a company promoting sugar relationships in New Zealand could be in breach of the Prostitution Reform Act. Under the law, it was illegal for people on temporary visas to provide commercial sexual services.

Immigration New Zealand manager of visa services Michael Carley said payment of school fees, accommodation and presents in exchange for sex could in some circumstances be considered providing a sexual service and would be a breach of a temporary visa.

Immigration also said there was no visa category that would allow a person, who was not a New Zealand citizen or resident, to invest in, direct, own or manage a commercial sex business.

Bob McCoskrie of Family First said relationships based on “purchasing a friendship” would always be problematic and artificial.
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