Distinguished researcher: violence against women

Professor Nareadi Phasha obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in the UK after completing an MEd in special education at Virginia State University in the US.

She is currently chair of the department of inclusive education at the University of South Africa. Phasha’s work relates to South Africa’s commitment to education for all and the millennium development goals.

Her responsibilities include preparing educators to teach learners who face various challenges that interfere with learning in special and inclusive educational settings.

Her research focuses on why some learners find it difficult to learn in the current education system and on the high rate of sexual victimisation among the school-age population.

It promotes an understanding of the links between the emotional consequences of sexual victimisation and school functioning, thereby positioning educators to find solutions, help learners cope educationally and eradicate the huge challenge of sexual exploitation.

Phasha’s current research is cross-national in nature. It focuses on school-based violence in special schools for learners with visual, hearing, physical and intellectual impairment in South Africa and Kenya.

She has published her work in 24 journal articles and nine book chapters. She previously supervised five master’s and one PhD student and is currently supervising two master’s and one PhD student.

One of her recent publications, School-based sexual violence among female learners with mild intellectual disability in South Africa, has received recognition from Psychology Progress, a Canadian-based establishment that alerts the scientific community to breaking journal articles considered to represent the best in psychology research.

First runner-up: Professor Deevia Bhana
Professor Deevia Bhana completed her PhD in 2002 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is a professor in the school of education of the -college of humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Bhana’s research continues to provide strong evidence for early interventions to address violent gendered and sexual cultures among children.

In the context of the risk of HIV and girls’ particular vulnerability, Bhana’s research has deepened analysis of childhood sexuality and highlighted the importance of transdisciplinary approaches to the study of children, gender and violence, encouraging an integrated social response that includes changing the toxic patterns of masculine behaviour in the country.

Bhana has grown a cohort of scholars in the field of gender-based violence and has supervised 29 master’s and PhD students to completion.

She has co-authored or edited two books and has published over 76 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters in some of the most prestigious international journals in her field. She is a member of seven international editorial boards and is associate editor of the UK-based Health Education journal.

Bhana has received a number of awards for her research. She has twice been a recipient of the Columbia University-Southern African Fogarty Aids International Training and Research Program award, and was until recently a short-term scholar at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Bhana was a finalist in the South African Women in Science awards (2011) in the category Distinguished Woman Scientist (Social Sciences and Humanities). She is a National Research Foundation C1-rated researcher.

Second runner-up: Professor Lillian Artz
Professor Lillian Artz obtained her PhD in criminology and criminal justice from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2008.

She is a founding director of the gender, health and justice research unit (GHJRU) which she established in 2004 in the faculty of health sciences of the University of Cape Town.

The unit provides a supportive intellectual location for inter-disciplinary research methods, theories and scholarship, and promotes evidence-based reforms and intervention programmes to address gender-based violence, community violence and institutional violence.

Five years after its establishment, the GHJRU was awarded one of the first social responsiveness awards by the University of Cape Town’s office of the vice chancellor in 2009.

Prior to establishing the GHJRU, Artz spent 10 years as a chief researcher and lecturer at the centre for criminology in the faculty of law, University of Cape Town.

She has published widely on domestic -violence, sexual offences, feminist jurisprudence and women’s rights to freedom and security in Africa.

During the past 17 years she has also worked on criminal justice reform and public health responses to violence- in southern Africa, with an increasing focus on regional collaboration in Central and East Africa.

This includes partnering with local and regional NGOs to improve research, monitoring and advocacy strategies to effect policy change, legal reform and access to health and justice.

Artz strongly encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary research models and practices that stretch traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Her current projects include research alliances with colleagues in the disciplines of law, criminology and policing, clinical medicine, psychiatry and mental health, and social work and public health.

Artz conducted the first qualitative attrition study in Africa on why victims of domestic violence retract from the criminal justice process, drawing on interviews with several hundred victims of domestic -violence.

She developed the first -protocol on research ethics relating to vulnerable groups for South African NGOs and non-academic research institutions.

Her research has been cited in a number of public interest cases and had a demonstrable influence on criminal justice policies, particularly in relation to sexual and domestic violence.

She also submitted numerous technical submissions based on empirical research to Parliament and the South African Law Reform Commission, influencing legislative reforms in some aspects of the law relating to sexual and domestic violence.

Artz has published 15 peer-reviewed journal articles and 11 book chapters. She has supervised three master’s and PhD students.

She is the vice president of the Criminological and Victimological Society of Southern Africa, and has worked with a wide range of parliamentary structures, law commissions, criminal justice institutions and international donors in southern and East Africa to improve access to justice for victims of crime and violence.