Shanaaz Mathews

Director of the Children’s Institute

PhD, Public Health (UWC)

  +27 21 650 1473

 Google Scholar Profile



 Research Interests

  Violence against children

  Gender-based violence and its intergenerational effects

  Mental health and children Child mortality

  Evidence-based programming

I joined the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town as the director in 2012. Prior to this appointment, I was a specialist scientist with the Gender & Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council for 12 years. My research focuses on violence against women and children, as well as pathways for men to develop into perpetrators of violence in the home.

I’ve led two national epidemiology studies on female homicide and the socio-cultural context of intimate femicide. The first national study alerted us that the problem of women killed by their intimate partner in South Africa far exceed the rate of such murders in other countries and was used to influence the Firearms Control Act. The second homicide study showed the positive effect of the policy restrictions on gun ownership with a significant reduction in gun murders in women killed by an intimate partner. I was also the primary investigator on a study into the psychosocial needs of children and the parents post child sexual assault as well as the services needs of children as co-victims of domestic violence. I led the first national study on child homicide that provided the first estimates in fatal child abuse. Based on the findings of this study, I piloted and evaluated the effectiveness of Child Death Review teams at two sites in South Africa. This project has been lauded as innovative and has been expanded across the Western Cape as a mechanism to strengthen health and child protection services. I also led an evaluation into the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act of 1999 and of a therapeutic programme for sexually abused children from rural areas in South Africa.

More recently, I led the Determinants of Violence Against Women and Children Study for the South African Inter-ministerial parliamentary committee and served as a technical advisor on South Africa’s Diagnostic Review of Government Programmes to address violence against women and children.

I am now working on developing an understanding of the risk factors associated with sudden unexpected deaths among infants as the critical point to reduce under-5 mortality in South Africa. I am also a lead investigator for the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence on Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand and developing a violence research agenda for the Center of Excellence (CoE). This will inform the research direction for the CoE over the medium term. I am also an International Advisory Board member for Multi Country Study on the Drivers of Violence for UNICEF Innocenti Research Office Florence. I am a co-investigator on the National Homicide Study led by the South African Medical Research Council, Gender and Health Research Unit.

I take an active role in post graduate teaching through the supervision and training of Masters and PhD students in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town.