Rothna Begum is the women’s rights researcher for the Middle East and North Africa region at Human Rights Watch. During this time, she has researched sexual violence and slavery of Yezidi women by ISIS in Iraq; and advocated for truth, justice and retribution for victims of sexual violence in post-2011 conflict Libya. She has also advocated for the promotion of women’s rights in Yemen’s new constitution and the abolition of child marriage; an end to discrimination against women in Saudi Arabia by dismantling the guardianship system; a systematic response to end sexual harassment and assault in Egypt; and reforms of personal status laws in Lebanon. She has in recent years led the advocacy on reform of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states’ laws and systems that facilitate abuse and exploitation of migrant domestic workers. She has conducted research building up a body of work on the government response to domestic violence in the Middle East such as in Lebanon and Morocco.
Prior to Human rights Watch, Rothna worked for Amnesty International for five and a half years’ researching and advocating against a whole host of human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa region, focusing on the Gulf region. Rothna holds a LLB in Law and a LLM in Legal Theory from the London School Economics and Political Science. She qualified in subjects such as international human rights law, public international law and Islamic law. She speaks five languages including Bengali and Arabic.