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Gray Aschman — Research Affiliate
BA Cape Town, BSocSc (Hons) Cape Town, MSc Oxford

Gray AschmanGray started working at the Unit in 2008, after completing her Honours degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice at UCT. In 2009, she took a year off to read for her MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford, where she wrote her thesis on the growth of Chinese organised crime in South Africa. She returned to the Unit in 2010 to work on a range of projects, including research on the provision of health care services to rape survivors and South African women's pathways to prison. Recently, she has focused on developing a set of monitoring tools to prevent torture and other ill treatment in places of detention. Her research interests include the protection of detainees' and prisoners' rights, improving the response to gender-based violence, and looking at ways of changing societal attitudes towards gender and gender-based violence.


Carmen Corral — Research Affiliate
Licenciatura (Psychology), MA (Clinical Psych), PhD University of Deusto

Carmen Corral-BulnesCarmen is a psychologist whose work has primarily focused on mental health issues related to sexual and intimate partner violence. She has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Deusto, Spain, where she completed her research and public dissertation on men who were convicted for intimate partner violence. She also holds a Master´s degree in Clinical Psychology, after which she worked as a psychologist at Zutitu (The Family and Sexual Violence Psychological Intervention Unit) and at GAKOA (The Psychological Intervention Centre for the Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence) in Basque Country, Spain. Her research interests include mental health, aggressive behaviour and violence against women and girls.



Jeanne Flavin — Research Affiliate
B.A., Kansas; M.A., Ph.D., American University

Jeanne Flavin's research draws attention to the myriad ways in which the state enforces gendered social arrangements through its criminal justice and other formal policies and practices.  She documents how the system’s responses to battered women, incarcerated women, and women who are addicted to drugs restrict some women’s rights to conceive, to be pregnant, and to bring up their children.  She proudly chairs the board of directors for National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which advocates for the social and civil rights of all women, but especially low-income women who are pregnant and parenting.  In 2009, Jeanne received a Fulbright Award to study  women's pathways to prison in South Africa.



Jillian Butterworth — Research Affiliate

Jillian ButterworthJillian Butterworth is a clinical psychologist who works primarily in the field of sexual violence. She works with survivors and perpetrators of sexual violence, with a focus on childhood sexual abuse. She works in private practice but consults to a number of NGOs and government sectors. Her work includes individual therapy, group therapy, workshops, and training. She also conducts forensic assessments. She completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology at the University of Western Cape and her dissertation was tilted The Cognitive Distortions of Child Sex Offenders.

She is chairperson of SASHA (Southern African Sexual Health Association) Western Cape. Her research interests include adolescent sexual perpetrators, and the assessment and rehabilitation of perpetrators of sexual violence.


Helene Combrinck — Research Associate

Helene Combrinck is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape. She previously worked at the Community Law Centre at UWC where she coordinated the Centre's Gender Project. She has published extensively on women's equality and women's rights, and has been involved in various submissions on law reform to parliamentary committees and the South African Law Reform Commission.





Swantje Tiedemann--Research Affiliate

MA social anthropology, University of Hamburg

Swantje holds a Master Degree in social anthropology from the University in Hamburg, Germany. Her dissertation focused on long-distance nationalism in Diasporas. After graduating she has been working in different research projects and NGOs in South Africa and Germany. Her main fields of experience are gender, violence against women and migration. Swantje first started interning at the Gender Health and Justice Research Unit in 2012 and has since then been involved in different projects at the unit. Her research interests include the living situation of refugees, particularly of women.




Estian Smit – Research Affiliate
BA (Philosophy and Classical Culture), BA Hons (Philosophy), MA (Philosophy), Stellenbosch University

Estian is a transgender activist, independent scholar and gender and bodily diversity consultant. They played a central role in parliamentary lobbying involving South Africa’s gender recognition law (Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act No. 49 of 2003) and have been involved in ongoing law and policy reform efforts towards greater protection and realisation of transgender and intersex rights. Over the past decade, they have worked as staff member, consultant and/or volunteer to South African transgender and intersex organisations, and have co-authored submissions to Parliament, as well as trans and intersex shadow reports to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and various United Nations committees. Estian holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Stellenbosch University and has also pursued postgraduate studies on transgender and intersex rights in relation to medico-legal and psychiatric discourses at the University of the Western Cape. Their interests include the provision of gender affirming healthcare within a human rights, social justice and wellbeing framework; depathologisation of gender and bodily diversity in international diagnostic manuals and healthcare settings; development of national gender affirming healthcare guidelines and practices in collaboration with transgender persons; and legal gender recognition for transgender, gender diverse and intersex persons on the basis of the rights to self-identification, bodily integrity and bodily autonomy. They are also passionate about sharing knowledge and building research networks, and committed to research that is open access, participatory and accountable to research participants.

Assoc Prof Alex Muller — Associate Pofessor
Dr med Georg-August University Gottingen, Germany

Alex trained as a medical doctor and medical sociologist at the University of Gottingen, Germany. She is interested in employing social science theory to understand health challenges and health and criminal justice system responses, particularly around gender (identity) and sexual orientation. Her recent publications focus on improving access to healthcare for sexual and gender minority individuals and developing competency frameworks around sexual orientation and gender identity for health professions education. She currently leads the first-ever regional research project to assess the prevalence of mental health concerns among sexual and gender minority populations in Southern and East Africa, a collaborative project with over 20 NGOs from 12 countries. Other projects of hers include analyses of the law and policy frameworks governing adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Southern Africa, investigations into the provision of gender-affirming care for transgender individuals in South Africa, and a comparative analysis of how LGBTI health-related topics are taught in health professions education in South Africa and Malawi. Alex has worked as a technical consultant to the Ministry of Health of Swaziland and the World Health Organisation, and currently works with the South African National AIDS Council and the World Psychiatric Association to develop competency guidelines for healthcare professionals on sex, sexual and gender diversity.

Follow Alex on ResearchGate.

Talia Meer — Researcher
BA (Hons) KwaZulu Natal; MA Dalhousie University Halifax

Talia Meer completed a BA in Political Science at the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2007, and an MA in Development Studies at Dalhousie University, Canada in 2010. She began working as a researcher at the GHJRU in 2011. Her central research interests centre on identity, intersectionality and violence. Her work at the Unit primarily involves public health and criminal justice responses to survivors of gender-based violence, including survivors with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities; and gender, sexuality and gender-based violence education for adults and teenagers. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Sociology focusing on gendered experiences of urban public space. 

Follow Talia on ResearchGate.

Amelia Shepherd-Smith — Research Affiliate
MSc University of Birmingham

The University of Cape Town granted Amelia Honorary Research Associate Status within the GHJRU in 2018. Amelia has worked in international development and humanitarian emergencies in the Middle East, Asia and Africa since 2011. In 2016, she was the Associate Protection Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Internally Displaced Persons' Unit in South Sudan and the South Sudan Refugee Response in Uganda. In 2014/2015, Amelia was UNHCR’s Monitoring and Reporting Specialist for the Protection Cluster, also in South Sudan. Trained as a journalist in 2000, Amelia was previously Deputy Editor of Gulf Business in the United Arab Emirates, and also worked as a health journalist in India for The Lancet and a humanitarian journalist with IRIN, covering Sri Lanka and Myanmar. She is passionate about international women and children's health and human rights, emerging practices in evaluation, and the communication of research for policy influence.


Nyasha Karimakwenda — Research Officer


 Nyasha is a feminist socio-legal researcher and educator. She has worked and conducted research with academic, non-profit and public-sector entities in the USA, the Caribbean and Southern Africa. She is passionate about empirical research that centers the voices of survivors of violence and highlights community activism. This is reflected in her doctoral research, undertaken in partnership with community-based women’s rights NGOs in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, through which she examined women’s experiences of marital rape and the complexities of their help-seeking journeys. Nyasha’s research interests and areas of expertise include: gender-based violence such as violence against women, violence against sexual orientation and gender identity minorities; customary marriage practices; power dynamics within families; histories of racial and gender exclusion; and current inequalities based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. She holds a BA in Africana Studies and Peace and Justice Studies from Wellesley College, a JD from Northeastern University School of Law, an MA in African Studies from Yale University, and a PhD in Public Law from the University of Cape Town.