The verb “bless” and derivatives have taken on a new meaning in South Africa. What may have had its genesis in the #blessed hashtag used by people across social media platforms to show off their good luck is now associated with the relationships between young women and sugar daddies. “Blesser” has become a term that refers to someone, usually a man, who financially supports the person he or she is seeing.

 

 

A “blessee” is the woman who receiving blessing, such as money and gifts, from her blesser.

 

 

#antiblessers come in to criticize the relationship between blessers and the blessed. The #antiblessers trended early last week, spearheaded by people purporting to be concerned with the culture of older men preying on young girls.

 

 

The most recent round of debates started when a young woman shared a photo of her graduation on Twitter: “#AntiBlessers. When young women are busy searching for blessers, we out here. Goal achieved!!!” This culture is considered a serious issue in South Africa where the government has targeted young girls in a campaign to reduce HIV infections. Apparently, girls as young as 13 years old have blessers. However, one thing some netizens noticed from the #antiblessers trend is that most antiblessers seem to blame women who are blessees, not the blessers themselves.

 

 

What doesn’t get mentioned is that young vulnerable girls from financially impoverished backgrounds face exploitation. Young girls and women also face the brunt of the ire and are slut-shamed while male blessers are hardly mentioned. In addition to this, it is girls that are targeted by government schemes, such as the virgin scholarship of earlier this year.

 

Are blessers being let of the hook in debates? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta