Professor Bonita Meyersfeld recognized for her work on gender-based violence 


Professor Bonita Meyersfeld has been recognised for her work on gender-based violence. Photo: File

Colleagues have praised the work of the former head of the Wits Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) Professor Bonita Meyersfeld after she was knighted by the French government for her work on gender-based violence.

Meyersfeld was honoured on March 19, being made a Knight of the National Order of Merit, an honour bestowed by the French government to French citizens and foreign nationals for distinguished achievements.

Meyersfeld received recognition for her work through the Lawyers Against Abuse (LvA), a non-profit organisation which she founded in 2011.

LvA provides legal and psychological support for victims of gender-based violence in Diepsloot.

Executive director of LvA Lindsay Henson said, “receiving recognition is significant because it validates the work we do”.

“LvA has provided their legal and psychological services to 850 victims of gender-based violence in Diepsloot,” said Henson.

LvA had ensured a serial rapist was given a life sentence earlier this year – a first for the organisation, she said.

Acting CALS director Lisa Chamberlain said, “Bonnie [Meyersfeld] has helped CALS better understand human rights and gender-based violence. [Meyersfeld] is an exceptional activist and it has been a pleasure working with her.”

Chamberlain previously served as deputy director between 2013 and 2017, while Meyersfeld was director.

Meyersfeld told Wits Vuvuzela, “It is momentous and a proud moment to have received recognition for the work LvA has accomplished.”

“Women are discriminated against because they are women,” said Meyersfeld.

“I hope receiving recognition will allow people to better understand gender-based violence and give support.”