Centre for Child Law attorney sharpens her skills with master’s degree

Posted on November 20, 2020

A passion for justice is what has driven Anjuli Maistry, an attorney at the Centre for Child Law based at the University of Pretoria (UP), to graduate with a master’s degree in law, with a specialisation in child law. 
She was one of thousands of UP students who had their degrees conferred virtually during the spring 2020 graduation session, which ran from 29 September to 2 October 2020. 
Perhaps the fact that she spent virtual graduation day working is indicative of her motivation to continue the fight for justice. “I recognised injustices even from a young age, and was therefore drawn to issues of social justice,” she says. “One of the main reasons I studied law was because I was inspired to use the law as a tool to achieve social justice, to deepen democracy and to strengthen human rights.” 
Maistry’s dissertation focuses on the plight of children with disabilities who have been left out of the education system. “The Department of Education has estimated that there are 597 953 children with disabilities who are out of school,” reads the abstract of her dissertation, which explores whether legal improvements are a solution for these children. The master’s goes on to analyse the current legal framework to assess whether it meets international obligations, constitutional standards and whether it is internally coherent, and makes recommendations on how the framework can be improved. 
Her degree is a continuation of a journey that has seen her sharpen her skills as a human rights activist and litigator. Before coming to the Centre for Child Law, Maistry worked at Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC). Her focus has been mostly on those who are denied justice because they exist on society’s periphery – the poor, marginalised and vulnerable. 
As challenging as the work is at times, Maistry is regularly reminded of the ability of the law to transform lives. “To be able to take an issue out of someone’s hands – often a traumatised person who does not have the energy to fight a losing battle any longer – and reverse their situation in almost impossible circumstances is incredibly fulfilling. But more than being fulfilling, I genuinely find it to be a privilege.” 
Maistry adds that this was part of what kept her going during her studies. “The thought that my research could benefit children with disabilities kept me motivated. I am also quite driven, and so I gave it my all, even though it was difficult with work and trying to maintain a personal life.”
As she adds to her arsenal of skills, Maistry has high hopes for the future. “People often ask me, ‘What next?’, and I always say that I hope it’s more of the same. This is exactly what I love to do – focusing on strengthening human rights.”
She now joins the thousands of former students who have proudly earned the status of being UP alumni, and encourages prospective law students to choose UP in order to have access to the finest education. “UP’s Law Faculty is one of the best faculties to study at if you want to pursue a career in human rights and constitutional law.” 
- Author Masego Panyane

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