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Women’s legal rights in the us

The legal rights of women in the US have come a long way since the suffrage movement. But did you know, there was a time in 17th century Massachusetts when women who lured men into marriage while wearing high-heeled shoes were shown the same treatment as witches? Although this might seem far-fetched, here is how the legal rights of women in the US have evolved.

In 1655, Elizabeth Key became the one among many slaves of African ancestry to sue and win for freedom and against slavery. Key-based her matter to the court on the basis of her father being an Englishman and herself being a baptized Christian. Her husband, William Grinstead, became her lawyer.


Following this lawsuit, the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1662, established a law which stated that children who were born in the colony were only allowed their maternal social status.

In 1762, Jenny Slew, a woman of mixed race, sued John Whipple Jr after he kidnapped Slew from her home. She was forced into being a slave for nearly 3 years. Slew sued Whipple, making a demand for her freedom and 25 pounds for the damages that incurred. Slew, having a mother who was white and free, argued she was to be seen as free also. She won her freedom a year later after appealing to the Essex Superior Court in Massachusetts.

The Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution was introduced in 1923 by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman. It strived for the equal rights of every man and woman. This was met with mixed reception from women all over. The women from the middle class were overwhelmingly supportive while those from the working class wanted special protection within their working condition and also laws that protected their employment hours.

In 1971, after gathering support from women all over the United States after the women’s movement in the 60s, the US House of Representatives approved on October 12 and later, on March 22, 1972, the US Senate’s approval.
The version that was passed in 1972 by the Congress had a revised statement from that put forward by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman.

In 1978, a federal law that protected women against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy was recognized and came to be known as The Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The act forced pregnancies to be seen as normal. This law saw pregnancy as a disability in the eyes of the law, forcing employers to treat pregnant women with the same respect given to the likes of disabled employees.

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