Home > Staff > Academic



Prof Lillian Artz — Director
BA SFU; BA (Hons) MA Cape Town; PhD Queen’s University Belfast

Lilian ArtzProfessor Lillian Artz is the Director of the Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU). She has published extensively on domestic violence, sexual offences, incarcerated women and women’s rights to freedom and security in Africa. She has worked on criminal justice and public health care reform in Southern and East Africa for over 20 years. Her current project work includes research on female offenders in prisons and psychiatric settings, vulnerable populations in places of detention, the epidemiology and prevalence of child sexual abuse, exposure to coercive sexual experiences amongst HIV testing populations, torture prevention in places of detention, including the establishment of National Protective Mechanisms to prevent and monitor torture (vis-à-vis OPCAT) in East Africa, as well as the medico-legal management of sexual and other forms of gender-based violence in conflict-affected, post-conflict and transitional African states. She has worked on the ground on gender-based violence and torture prevention projects in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Somalia, and Ethiopia and on the development of medico-legal and victim support services in South Sudan and Pakistan. Formerly the Vice President of the Criminological and Victimological Society of Southern Africa, she will now take up the role as the first female Chief Editor of Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology (est. 1988) in 2017. Artz has worked as a technical consultant to a wide range of parliamentary structures, law commissions, criminal justice institutions and international donors in Southern, Central and East Africa. Her evidence-based contributions to law and policy reform, as well as the development of social justice projects in the African region, have earned her a number of awards, including a National Department of Science and Technology “Women in Science Distinguished Researcher Award” (2013) as well as the University of Cape Town’s first “Social Responsiveness Award” (2009). She is an elected member and fellow of the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation – which holds consultative status at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and the Council of Europeand is a member of a number of international policing and security networks, such as the Global Law Enforcement and Public Health (LEPH) Research Network and the African Security Sector Network.

Follow Lillian on ResearchGate.

Harsha Gihwala – Senior Research Officer
LLB University of Cape Town

Harsha completed her LLB at the University of Cape Town in 2014. In 2015 she began her LLM at UCT specialising in Criminology, Victimology and Forensics. Her master’s thesis focuses on unpacking some of the intricacies that are found in South African sexual violence judgments. Her work at the Unit so far involves the interpretation of rape sentencing judgments, and soon, around improving the functioning of three pilot Sexual Offences Courts in South Africa. Her research interests include gender violence, criminal justice, and human rights.





Nasreen Solomons - Research Officer

LLB University of Cape Town

Nasreen is a Research Officer at the Unit, conducting research in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Before joining the Unit, she worked as an attorney at the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) leading its SRHR programme. Nasreen previously also worked as a researcher for WLC while tutoring in the Department of Private Law at UCT; and conducted research for the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit at UCT, working on its AfricanLii projects. She served her contract of community service at the Legal Resources Centre, as a Bertha Justice Fellow, at their offices in Cape Town.

Nasreen holds a BA degree in English, History and Philosophy; an Honours degree in Historical Studies; and an LLB from UCT. She is currently completing an LLM by dissertation, focusing on Refugee Law; and is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa.




Kassa Maksudi - Junior Research Fellow

BSS UKZN; BSS (Hons) Rhodes University; MA UKZN


Kassa holds a BSS degree from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal where she majored in Psychology and Criminology (2015), she also holds a BSS Honours degree in Psychology where she discovered her interest in masculinities and violence and psychopathology from Rhodes University (2016). Additionally, she holds a Master’s degree in Health Promotion from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (2018). Kassa has expertise in refugee and immigrant mental and sexual and reproductive health. Her research interests are the impact of domestic violence on the mental health outcomes of victims (spouse and children) as well as the impact violence has on women’s sexual and reproductive health and their (in)ability to negotiate safer sexual practices especially in the refugee and migrant community here in South Africa. She is also interested in how religion is intertwined with cultural beliefs and practices and how these two major factors are used to perpetuate violence against women and children. Kassa joined the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit in September 2019. She is currently working on a few research projects within the unit and privately, she is also working on her PhD proposal which will focus on her research interests. Kassa hopes that her work will help improve the quality of life for victims of gender-based violence and help create a positive mind shift in perpetrators of violence particularly within the refugee/ migrant community.

 Follow Kassa on ResearchGate



Dr Leoba Nyathi - Junior Research Fellow

PhD Gender Studies, MPH - University of Venda

Dr Leoba Nyathi holds a Master of Public Health and PhD in Gender Studies from the University of Venda. Dr Leoba has a strong commitment to issues of gender, health and social justice. She is interested interdisciplinary gender health research. Prior to joining the unit, she was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Western Cape focusing on the contribution of family to social cohesion.  She is also a reviewer for various journals focusing on gender studies. Leoba appreciates the service of the research field and how it can contribute to the betterment of societies.  She wishes to position her nascent research portfolio as an integral part of the global empowerment of women, children and other vulnerable populations.




Millicent Ngubane - Research Assistant

BSS UKZN, BSocSci Hons Industrial Psychology UKZN

Millicent is the first NRF Intern appointed to join the GHJRU. She completed her Bachelor’s degree and BSoc Sci Hons in Industrial Psychology at UKZN and her Honours Research project was on The Barriers Preventing Women’s Progress in Engineering-a systematic review of the literature. Following her honours degree completion she could not secure employment in her field right away and gained herself some experience within the retail industry. Thereafter, she worked as a medico-legal consultant for Riverwalk Buitendach, conducting intake interviews with clients who were involved in motor/pedestrian vehicle accidents, administering psychometric tests and typing reports with projections for pre and post morbid state of the clients. Her research interests heightened when she became a research assistant for one of the UKZN lecturers in her study that she conducted on vulture conservation. They collected data first hand from the nature/game reserves and the surrounding communities interviewing the managers, community liaisons, traditional leaders as well as the common members of the communities, she also transcribed data. Within the unit she is assisting in the project of strengthening local governance to improve gender-based violence; she has familiarised herself with all the communities that are the main focus in the project, getting all the local reports on how the community responds to violence and put up together a small review on that. She will also be transcribing data. She is determined to being one of the people bringing about change in other people’s lives, particularly women and children who suffered abuse in various ways. She is now clustered with so many Master’s Degree choices to pursue. But she believes that Public Health is the excellent first step from here with the focus on environmental health and social & behavioural sciences which will also enable her to work with people from the deepest rural areas, first in and around Africa and later reaching out to all, worldwide. She looks forward to learning more other things within the unit.