Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Rights of Women

The Rights of Women: The Authoritative ACLU Guide to Womens Rights, Fourth Edition

Lenora M. Lapidus
Emily J. Martin
Namita Luthra
General Editor of the Handbook Series Eve Carey
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 432
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Rights of Women
    Book Description:

    The Rights of Women is a comprehensive guide that explains in detail the rights of women under present U.S. law, and how these laws can be used in the continuing struggle to achieve full gender equality at home, in the workplace, at school, and in society at large. The Rights of Women explores the concept of equal protection and covers topics including employment, education, housing, and public accommodations. This handbook also examines the specific issues of trafficking, violence against women, welfare reform, and reproductive freedom.Using a straightforward question-and-answer format while translating the law into accessible language, this volume is a tool for individuals, lawyers, and advocates seeking to assert women's rights under the law.Now in its fully revised and updated fourth edition, The Rights of Women is an invaluable guide to finding legal solutions to the most pressing issues facing women today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6501-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction to the ACLU Handbook Series
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    This book is one of a series published in cooperation with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that is designed to inform individuals about their rights in particular areas of law. A guiding principle of the ACLU is that an informed citizenry is the best guarantee that the government will respect individual civil liberties. These publications carry the hope that individuals informed of their rights will be encouraged to exercise them. In this way, rights are given life. If rights are rarely used, however, they may be forgotten, and violations may become routine.

    In order to understand and exercise individual...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. I Constitutional Rights: Equal Protection
    (pp. 1-24)

    This chapter explains how the Constitution and evolving judicial interpretations of it may invalidate both state and federal laws and actions that discriminate on the basis of sex. Although such laws and practices have become rarer since the early 1970s when the Supreme Court first held that the Constitution prohibited certain kinds of sex discrimination, many still remain. The United States Constitution is one of a variety of tools that may be used to dismantle discrimination against women; many state constitutions also provide protection against certain kinds of sex discrimination. Unfortunately, in recent years constitutional arguments have also been used...

  7. II Employment: Discrimination and Parenting Issues
    (pp. 25-84)

    Women have made many advances in the American workplace since the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,¹ yet they continue to experience gender, race, and other forms of discrimination in employment. Statistics on the sex segregation of workers and on the undervaluation of women’s wages, as well as the individual experiences of many women, suggest that many employers in the United States continue to discriminate against female employees on a regular basis. Data on race discrimination also show that employment policies and practices continue to harm women of color. Such discrimination significantly reduces women’s earnings and is illegal....

  8. III Trafficking and Forced Labor of Women Workers
    (pp. 85-99)

    Trafficking in persons is a worldwide form of labor exploitation in which women, men, and children are held against their will in slave-like conditions through force, fraud, or coercion. The inequalities women face in status and opportunity worldwide make women particularly vulnerable to trafficking.

    The U.S. Constitution prohibits slavery, but until the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 (TVPA), U.S. law did not adequately address the myriad forms of coercion that enable trafficking. As a result of the TVPA, U.S. law now contains robust mechanisms to prevent trafficking, protect victims of trafficking, and punish their traffickers. Notably,...

  9. IV Education
    (pp. 100-156)

    In 1837, Oberlin College made history by becoming the first college in the United States to admit women. Later, in 1862, the first African-American woman to earn a college degree graduated from Oberlin. Yet women’s admission, while a historic step forward, did not ensure women’s equality. In the early years of their attendance at Oberlin, women were considered too weak-minded to take the same courses as men. Female students were also required to wash the male students’ clothes, care for their rooms, and serve them at meals. Nor were women permitted to speak publicly at the college. Lucy Stone, the...

  10. V Violence against Women
    (pp. 157-197)

    Women’s intimate relationships are often marked by violence. One recent study indicates that nationally, 26 percent of women, compared to 8 percent of men, report having been victimized by an intimate partner in their lifetime.¹ Indeed, when violence occurs in an intimate relationship, about 85 percent of the time a woman is the victim of that violence.² While violence against women occurs in every class, race, and culture, poor women are especially vulnerable to violence, because their poverty constricts their ability to escape violent relationships. It is far more difficult to separate from your abuser, for instance, when leaving the...

  11. VI Reproductive Freedom
    (pp. 198-240)

    Reproductive freedom, if fully realized, allows women and men to make important life decisions—free from government interference—about when and whether to become a parent. It ensures meaningful access to reproductive health care (including abortion, contraception, and prenatal care) and supports programs that provide the information we all need to lead healthy lives. Being able to decide whether and when to have a child is critical to women and their families. As the U.S. Supreme Court has observed, “The ability of women to participate in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability...

  12. VII Family Law
    (pp. 241-282)

    In the past twenty years the definition of family has been changing drastically to include families headed by gay and lesbian couples, foster and adoptive families, extended families, stepfamilies, and other “new families.” Court decisions and laws, however, still often reflect a narrow conception of what constitutes a family. Individual challenges to traditional notions of the nuclear two-parent family consisting of husband, wife, and children have forced the law around nontraditional families to grow and adapt, but that development has been piecemeal at best. Given how diverse society is today, it is perhaps not surprising, then, that the law governing...

  13. VIII The Criminal Justice System
    (pp. 283-327)

    The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.¹ As of 2004, the number of people behind bars surpassed two million, and, although the vast majority of prisoners are still men, the number of women prisoners has grown nearly 53 percent in the last twenty years.² At the end of 2003, considering all forms of correctional supervision—probation, parole, jail, and state and federal prison³—more than one million women were behind bars or under the control of the criminal justice system.⁴

    Women of color, particularly African-American and Hispanic women, are incarcerated at disproportionately higher rates than their...

  14. IX TANF/Welfare
    (pp. 328-374)

    In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), making sweeping changes to the nation’s welfare laws. The PRWORA “reformed” welfare by eliminating the federal welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and replacing it with a more punitive, time-limited system called “Temporary Assistance to Needy Families” (TANF). TANF made two major changes to the old system. First, it eliminated the federal guarantees of income assistance to poor families and of childcare assistance to adults engaged in paid work. Second, it imposed a strict set of work requirements and time limits on recipients, designed...

  15. X Housing
    (pp. 375-396)

    Shelter, like food and clothing, is a basic human need. In spite of this, securing housing remains a struggle for many women. However, housing discrimination is largely understood as a problem experienced along racial lines, and there is a tendency to ignore the biases women face as tenants and the power landlords hold due to the shortage of affordable housing.¹

    Women who rent housing are especially vulnerable to sex discrimination, in part because these women are disproportionately poor. Approximately 28 percent of all single-parent families headed by women live below the poverty line, compared to only about 13.5 percent of...

  16. XI Public Accommodations and Private Clubs
    (pp. 397-406)

    Public accommodations are places or organizations open to the general public without special conditions or restrictions. They include not only places like public sidewalks and libraries but also privately owned facilities such as hotels, restaurants, hospitals, theaters, and sports arenas. Some states define public accommodations even more broadly. For example, the District of Columbia includes insurance companies in its definition,¹ while Ohio considers some types of trailer parks to be public accommodations.² Recently, lawsuits have argued that access to playing fields in city parks is a public accommodation.³

    A public accommodation does not have to be a place. Many states...

  17. Index
    (pp. 407-412)