Dee Smythe

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Dee Smythe

BA LLB (Cape Town) JSM JSD (Stanford)
Director of Law, Race and Gender Research Unit & Associate Professor
Tel: +27 21 650 5680

Dr Dee Smythe is Director of the Centre for Law and Society (previously Law, Race and Gender Research Unit) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Law. Prior to joining the Faculty of Law in 2009 she was Principal Researcher at the Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit in UCT's Faculty of Health Sciences. Dee was a Fulbright Fellow at Stanford Law School in 2004.

Her research spans a range of areas at the intersection of law, policy, and social justice. It is particularly concerned with producing methodologically rigorous empirical data on the operation of the legal system, as a basis for evaluating the effectiveness of and supporting legal and policy interventions. She is an expert on state responses to gender-based violence, with a specific focus on sexual offences. She has also written on HIV/AIDS, crime prevention, and police transformation, and convened the African Network of Constitutional Lawyers' focus group on Women, Equality and Constitutionalism.

In 2009 Dee was awarded the UCT College of Fellows' Young Researcher Award for outstanding scholarly work by a young academic. In the same year the work of the Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit was recognised with UCT's inaugural Social Responsiveness Award. In 2011 the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit's Rural Women's Action Research Project was recognised with UCT's Social Responsiveness Award.

Dee is on the Board of Trustees of the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust.


Since 2005 Dee has also taught classes for courses provided by the Faculty of Health Sciences' Division of Forensics and Toxicology (Medicina Forensis, LLB), Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Legal and Clinical Issues in Gender-Based Violence, MBBCh), Department of Public Health (Women's Human Rights; Sexual Violence: Law and Public Health Responses, MPH), the Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Humanities (Addressing Intersecting Vulnerabilities through Law and Policy Reform, MPhil in Diversity Studies, iNcudisa).

In addition, Dee has taught on the NYU-UCT Summer School, and facilitated learning on violence against women, HIV/AIDS, and access to housing for Stanford's Cape Town programme. She also co-convened (with Kathleen Kelly) Stanford Law School's International Human Rights Clinical Externship.


Dee is willing to consider supervision of topics with a socio-legal orientation, particularly those involving qualitative research methods. Of particular interest are all aspects of women's engagement with the law (sexual offences, domestic violence, domestic homicide, sex work, sexual harassment, workplace issues, impact of customary law, etc); expert evidence and the use of empirical evidence in judicial, legislative and policy-decisions; and topics dealing with processes for ensuring effective public participation in democratic processes and institutions. Specific post-graduate research opportunities also exist through the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit's work on women's land rights. See

Selected Publications


Smythe, D. and Pithey, B (eds) Sexual Offences Commentary, Cape Town: Juta (2011)

Artz, L., & Smythe, D., (eds) Should we consent? The politics of rape law reform in South Africa, Cape Town: Juta (2008)

Manuscripts submitted in 2011:

Smythe, D., Rohrs, S., and Hseih, A (eds) Women, Equality and Constitutionalism in Africa, UCT Press (submission date 15 July 2011)

Smythe, D., Recalcitrant Victims and Refractory Systems, UCT Press (submission date 30 July 2011)

Journal Articles

Kelly, K., & Smythe, D., ‘Navigating Culture in the Field: Cultural Competency Training Lessons from the International Human Rights Clinic’, New York Law School Law Review (2011)

Smythe, D., ‘Classifications and sub-classifications: A response to De Vos, Stone and Erasmus’, Transformation (2011)

Artz, L., & Smythe, D., ‘Losing Ground: Attrition in Rape Cases’, SA Crime Quarterly (2008) (republished in CP Nandini (ed) Rape and the Law, Amicus Books, Icfai University Press, India (2010))

Artz, L., & Smythe, D., ‘Case Attrition in Rape Cases: A Comparative Analysis’, South African Journal of Criminal Justice 20(2) p158-181 (2007)

Smythe, D. & Artz, L., ‘Feminism v The State’, Agenda (2007)

Artz, L. & Smythe, D. ‘Bridges and barriers: A five year retrospective on the Domestic Violence Act’, Acta Juridica (also published as Advancing Women Rights eds C. Murray and M. O’Sullivan), p. 200-227 (2005)

Smythe, D. & Artz, L. ‘Money matters: Structural problems with implementing the Domestic Violence Act’, Agenda, p. 24-33 (2005)

Smythe, D. ‘Moving Beyond 30 years of Anglo-American Rape Law Reforms: legal representation for victims of sexual offences’, South African Journal of Criminal Justice (2005)

Smythe, D. ‘Missed Opportunities: Confiscation of Weapons in Domestic Violence Cases’, in SA Crime Quarterly (2004)

Book Chapters

Smythe, D., ‘Uncooperative Systems: Insights from South Africa’s Attempts to Deal with Sexual Violence’, in Faraldo Cabana and Iglesias Skulj (eds) Gender and Criminal Justice: An International Perspective/Genero y sistema penal: Una perspective internacional, Granada: Comaras (2010)

Smythe, D., Artz, L., Combrinck, H., Doolan, K. & Martin, L. ‘Caught Between Policy & Practice: Health & Justice Responses to Gender-Based Violence’ in Van Niekerk, Suffla and Seedat (eds) Crime, Violence & Injury Prevention in South Africa: Data to Action. Tygerberg: Medical Research Council (2008)

Smythe, D. & Waterhouse, S. ‘Policing Sexual Offences: Policies, Practices and Potential Pitfalls’, in Artz & Smythe (eds) Should we consent? The politics of rape law reform in South Africa, Cape Town: Juta (2008)

Artz, L. & Smythe, D. ‘Should we Consent?’, in Artz & Smythe (eds) Should we consent? The politics of rape law reform in South Africa, Cape Town: Juta (2008)

Smythe, D., ‘South Africa’s Response to Domestic Violence’, in Benninger-Budel (ed) State Obligations to end Violence Against Women, Leiden: Martinus Nijhof (2008)

Artz, L. & Smythe, D. ‘Rape and Sexual Assault’, in Kaliski, S. (ed) Oxford Handbook of Psycho-Legal Assessment, 146-158, London: Oxford University Press (2006)

Artz, L & Smythe, D. ‘South African Legislation Supporting Victims’ Rights’, in Davis, L. & Snyman, R. (eds) South African Handbook on Victimology, Pretoria: Van Schaiks (2005)

Smythe, D. & Parenzee, P. ‘Acting Against Domestic Violence’, in Dixon, W & Van der Spuy, E (eds) Justice Gained? Crime and Crime Control in South Africa’s Transition, Cape Town: Juta (2004)

Research Reports and Training Materials

Levy J., Smythe D. & Jefthas D. HIV/AIDS and the Law for Magistrates (updated and completed 2008)

Smythe, D., Jefthas, D., Hoffman-Wanderer, Y., Artz, L., Chisala, S., HIV & Sexual Offences: Challenges for Magistrates, UCT (2007) p1-188

Artz, L., Smythe, D. & Doolan K. Crime Prevention Indicators for Youth At Risk, Alliance for Crime Prevention (2006)

Artz, L., Combrinck, H., Gallinetti J., and Smythe D. Commissioned report on compliance with the Domestic Violence Act at 29 Priority Police Stations in the Eastern Cape, SAPS/EU (2005) p1-300

Artz, L., Smythe, D. & Leggett T. Integrated Rape Case Management, Pretoria: UNICEF (2004)

Parenzee, P & Smythe, D. Domestic Violence and Development: Looking at the Farming Context, Cape Town: OSF and Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town (2002)

Press and Newsletters

Nakhjavani S. and Smythe D., 'Our Rusted Ubuntu has Failed Vulnerable Refugees of Soetwater', Weekend Argus 27 July 2008 (Translated into Afrikaans and published as 'Eenheid in Diversiteit', Die Burger 30 July 2008) (dealing with reintegration of refugees)

Smythe D., 'Wrong Priorities', Business Day 19 November 2007 (dealing with compulsory HIV-testing of alleged sex offenders)

Smythe D. & Artz L., 'Sex offences bill a step forward but still flawed', Weekend Argus 11 August 2007 (analysis of the Sexual Offences Bill)

Smythe D., 'The truth behind those statistics', Mail & Guardian (dealing with SAPS rape statistics and crime reduction targets)

Smythe, D., 'The Problem of Attrition in Rape Cases', in News & Views for Magistrates, Cape Town: Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (2004)

Smythe, D. 'Domestic Violence on Farms: A Challenge for the Criminal Justice System', in News & Views for Magistrates, Cape Town: Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (2003)

Legal Submissions

Western Cape Sexual Offences Working Group/Consortium on Violence Against Women, Submission to the NCOP on the Sexual Offences Bill (including oral representations, 30 October 2007) (covering vulnerable witnesses, compulsory HIV testing, evidentiary and procedural problems relating to children, legal representation for victims) (2007)

Shatz, N & Smythe, D. Submission on the South African Law Reform Commission’s Investigation into Trafficking (Project 131) (arguing against the focus on trafficking for sexual purposes and advocating for extension to all forms of human trafficking and forced labour) (2007)

Galgut, H., Smythe, D. & Waterhouse, S., (Western Cape Sexual Offences Working Group/Consortium on Violence Against Women), Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing (2005)

Smythe, D., (Western Cape Sexual Offences Working Group/Consortium on Violence Against Women), Legal Representation for Victims of Sexual Offences. Submission to the South African Law Commission on Project 107: Sexual Offences (2002)


Artz L. & Smythe D. Open Society Foundation: Evaluation of the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre (East London, Peddie, Butterworth, Cathcart) (2005)

Artz L. & Smythe D. Open Society Foundation: Evaluation of the Centre for Criminal Justice at University of KwaZulu Natal (2006)

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