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A Timely New Book for the Ongoing Fight for Gender Equality

Selene Kaye,
Director, Liberty Division,
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April 2, 2009

Coinciding with the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the fully revised and updated fourth edition of The Rights of Women was released this week. The latest release in the ACLU Handbook Series, The Rights of Women is a comprehensive guide that explains in detail the rights that women and girls have under U.S. law, and how these laws can be used in the continuing struggle to achieve full gender equality. One chapter is dedicated to the issue of violence against women, including sexual assault.

When the first edition of The Rights of Women was published in 1973, many laws existed that treated women and men differently. Today, while few laws explicitly treat men and women differently, the rights established by court decisions and by legislation are still not fully realized by all women in the United States. Especially for the most marginalized women—poor women, women of color, immigrant women—those rights are still far from a reality. Thus, the fight for women’s rights remains critical.

Sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, pay inequity, the treatment of women and girls in prison, restrictions on reproductive freedom, and sex discrimination in education — these are all pressing civil rights issues facing women and girls today. And it is precisely in addressing issues like these that The Rights of Women can serve as a valuable tool for individuals, lawyers, and advocates seeking to assert women’s and girls’ rights under the law.

The Rights of Women — coauthored by the ACLU Women’s Rights Project’s Director, Lenora Lapidus, Deputy Director, Emily Martin, and former Staff Attorney, Namita Luthra — explores the concept of equal protection and covers topics including employment, education, housing, criminal justice, family law, and public accommodations, and examines the specific issues of trafficking, violence against women, welfare reform, and reproductive freedom.

Learn more about The Rights of Women and the ACLU’s efforts to protect women’s and girls’ rights.