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"GBV IS A SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE"​ The Justice Desk's '16 Voices in 16 Day Campaign'​

We are proud to introduce our fourth voice in our “16 Voices in 16 Days” Campaign against gender-based violence!

Alexi Steinegger is one of The Justice Desk's incredible Mission Ambassadors representing South Africa. Each year, The Justice Desk selects key ambassadors from various countries across the globe, who endorse and promote the work of The Justice Desk in their countries. Our Mission Ambassadors encourage people all over the world to take action, together with The Justice Desk. Alexi is an integral part of The Justice Desk family, and she proudly waves our flag in every corner of the world!

The Justice Desk believes in the power of the everyday person, especially in their ability to create lasting, impactful and effective change in their communities! Through this campaign, we hope to both raise awareness to #GBV, but also to unite and inspire others in order to take action within their own spaces. Ending GBV is not the fight of some, but of us all!

Let us never forget to recognise the incredible power that we as South Africans have, when we come together, to make a change.

By amplifying these 16 remarkable changemakers, we hope to inspire YOU in contributing YOUR own thoughts and voice, as we unite in solidarity in the important fight against gender-based violence.

"I am a young woman living in South Africa. The danger of gender-based violence is imminent and threatening as the probability is steadily increasing that a loved one, a baby, a grandmother, a woman, a girl child or I may fall, victim.

Gender-based violence in South Africa has been a phenomenon of social injustice, woven into the fabric of our societies. It is for this reason that I urge the private and public sectors, to take action and unite in deconstructing patriarchal paradigms that have become normalised in our society. These patriarchal norms manifest in silencing, controlling, and violating the vulnerable in society. Not only does this have fatal and lasting consequences for victims, communities, and their families, but it stunts the growth and development of South African communities and contributes to generational trauma leaving behind a trail of devastating social, mental health and economic implications.

According to the African Women’s Development Fund, the estimated annual cost of GBV in South Africa ranges between R28 billion and R42 billion per year. These costs become a financial liability of the public and private sectors, negating our social assets and swallows

up funds better used for welfare provisions, infrastructure improvements and education to the benefit of historically marginalized communities. The increase in violence against women, during Covid-19, has been termed the ‘shadow pandemic’ by the United Nations; this has exacerbated existing human and financial costs.

The state invests money on services such as police units, the justice system, healthcare, social welfare etc.

The civil society contributes to the financing of shelters and support services including mental health such as counselling services and hotlines for victims.

Businesses are impacted as GBV increase absenteeism and unproductivity due to the psychological and physical harm experienced by victims.

The victim and family suffer tangible expenses such as medical costs, transport and phone costs, catering for temporary emergency housing arrangements, and often even funeral costs.

These costs are not short-term. Such expenses become a protracted burden carried by generations to follow; as many of us can relate to.

If the cost of human life is not enough to create urgency and immediacy for the termination of GBV, then I, as a woman experiencing the effects of GBV on our society, deeply hope to incentivize these sectors to be pro-actively engaging in preventing and intervening in matters related to GBV, due to the prolonged and excessive financial burden inherent to GBV.

The public and private education sector ought to be responsible for educating our young citizens about valuing the lives of women, both psychologically and physically as their equals. Fellow citizens must become everyday activists by advocating for gender equality, using our voices, our resources, and our privilege to guide women towards educational opportunities, financial freedom, and the freedom to choose their own destinies.

Our grandparents, parents, pastors, community leaders and teachers must be provided access to information on GBV. Research must be accessible through all means, incl. social media, using apps that show the financial, psychological, physical and enduring trauma as well as the huge financial implication it brings to bear on our society.

I believe that the private sectors must actively restructure gender hierarchies by employing women within their capacity and for just salaries to be paid. It is vital that safe spaces are created for women and girls. Perpetrators must endure the legislative consequences accordingly for the perpetration and/or threatening of gender-based violence. Our activism ought to be extended to the point where, as a result, the state and/or its citizens must be the key driver in allocating budget, time, and resources meaningfully to all sectors in order to develop interventions and preventions for gender-based violence.

I believe that if individuals in every sector of society fulfil their roles as everyday activists, focusing on improving gender relations and prioritize women in society, this will create and inspire a movement of prevention and intervention for the extinction of violence incurred by women daily."

Alexi Steinegger

TJD Mission Ambassador

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