A broad survey mapping young people's attitudes to sugar dating carried out by the Danish Centre for Social Science Research (VIVE) has uncovered great acceptance of the concept.
Exactly 50 percent of the 1,732 Danish young people aged 18 to 30 surveyed said that sugar dating, a type of relationship when a typically younger partner exchanges sex or other intimate services for money or material goods with a typically older partner, is perfectly okay, Danish Radio reported.
Despite the notion of sugar dating being fine for those who enjoy it, fewer actually thought about taking it up. Merely 7 percent have remotely considered exchanging intimacy or sex for gifts, yet without acting on it.
Still, while previous reports estimated that barely 1 to 2 percent of young people engage in sugar dating, VIVE's survey indicated that wholly 5 percent of 18-30-year-olds actually tried giving sex, kissing, or sending intimate photos in exchange for everything from a drink to money. At the same time, 54 percent of those surveyed consider sugar dating to be some form of prostitution.
According to VIVE chief analyst Karen Margrethe Dahl, this indicates tolerance of others without necessarily intending to do the same.
"For many people, however, it is a bit coincidental – one-off events, not necessarily about the young people deliberately wanting to use their body to achieve something material", Karen Margrethe Dahl explained.
According to the dating site SugarDaters.dk, which has about 10,000 active users every month, it has nothing to do with prostitution. It stressed that it is a dating site like any other and doesn't encourage sex for money in any way.
At the same time, Danish lawmakers are calling for a crackdown on sugar dating which they believe should be equated with grooming.
"Children must be children and they must not sugar date. We must have an independent grooming clause", Socialist People's Party's legal spokeswoman Karina Lorentzen told Danish Radio.
In a case of cross-bloc cooperation, the bid was supported by the national-conservative Danish People's Party.
"You get very upset. This is absolutely wild. We must make it a separate criminal offence to groom, such as when a much older man tries to make contact with a very young girl of 12. If it were up to us, it would have been made illegal immediately. It is necessary that we step in hard and fast", its legal spokesman Peter Skaarup said.
In Denmark, it is illegal to have sex with a person who is under 15 years for those above 15. And it is illegal to procure sex from people under 18, as well as help young people under 18 sell sex. Thus, certain cases of sugar dating may be illegal if it implies a form of customer agreement, in which sex is exchanged for material goods, expensive gifts, or money.