The speakers will also address the Covid-19 pandemic and how it exacerbates violence

This talk will explore violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Saudi Arabia as a case study to understand the interconnectedness of violence with gender inequality and women’s limited representation in power and decision-making. VAWG will be explored in the context of Saudi Arabia, while drawing parallels with neighboring countries and the Arab region as a whole. In particular, a focus on patriarchal relations, honor-related cultural norms, and social and economic policies will be presented in relation to violence perpetration and prevention. Also explored will be how the Covid-19 pandemic impacts VAWG. Finally, an overview of culturally-tailored prevention strategies will be discussed.

Speaker: Hala Aldosari is a Saudi scholar and activist whose work focuses on women’s rights in Arab societies, violence against women, and the “guardianship” system in Saudi Arabia. She joined the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) as its 2019-20 Robert E Wilhelm Fellow.

Discussant: Rothna Begum is senior researcher for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. Prior to joining HRW, Rothna worked for Amnesty International researching human rights in the Middle East and North Africa region.

A full transcript of this event is available at

Co-sponsors: MIT Center for International Studies (CIS); The Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality (GCWS) at MIT; MIT Program in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS)

The MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) is a world premier, university-based research and education center. Learn more at

The MIT Starr Forum is a flagship public event series hosted by CIS. Learn more at


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