Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans – 2018 Edition
Civil Society

Ariane Nevin (30)

National prisons specialist, Sonke Gender Justice

For Ariane Nevin, engaging with social justice issues has been a long-standing passion. “I’ve always had a passion for social justice, particularly to address inequality, discrimination and stigma,” she says. Nevin has developed a solid knowledge foundation within the legal fraternity; knowledge she draws from to participate in South Africa’s betterment. She holds an LLM from the University of California, Los Angeles, and completed an LLB at UCT.

Nevin joined SECTION27 in 2013 as a Students for Law and Social Justice Fellow working on issues related to the right to education, including the Limpopo textbooks case, school infrastructure and sanitation cases and a guide for survivors of sexual violence at school.

“Through my involvement as a student activist in Students for Law and Social Justice, I learned about the power that the law has historically played in entrenching injustice, but also its potential to further social justice, and decided that the best way to go about combating inequality was to learn how to harness the law and, where necessary, to dismantle it.”

Nevin has also worked on the Pollsmoor Prison overcrowding case, partnering with Lawyers for Human Rights, to eventually win a court victory against the government that led to a drastic reduction in overcrowding levels at Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility. Her professional and academic pursuits have allowed her to work with vulnerable groups, particularly incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. She credits Nikki Stein, Adila Hassim, Professor Tendayi Achiume, Marlise Richter and Emily Keehn as some of the women who have mentored and inspired her tremendously.

There are a number of things Nevin wishes to contribute towards to bring about change in South Africa’s current state of affairs: an end to all the toxic gender norms, discrimination and stigma that lead to such high rates of physical and sexual violence in South Africa. “I’d want to break down the stigma against the hyper-marginalised — sex workers, incarcerated people, parolees and others — and include them in the conversations that affect them.”

Currently working as the national prisons specialist at Sonke Gender Justice, Nevin is grateful that she can contribute in this sector. “I know of many people out there doing incredible work for the rights of incarcerated people who may never be recognised for that work. I’ve been honoured to work with them and learn from them: Thulani Ndlovu, Jerry Mbetane, Mzamo Sidelo, to name just a few.”

In July 2018, Nevin joins the Constitutional Court as a judicial clerk. — Simphiwe Rens

Twitter: @ariane_nevin