The Virginia Law Women at the University of Virginia's School of law at Charlottesville have written a 76-page booklet on the legal rights of Virginia women and where they can go for help when they think they have received unfair treatment.
"We don't just explain the laws; we tell women when to consult an attorney and what agencies will help," said Diane Smock, a second-year law student.
"Your Legal Rights as a Woman: A Handbook for Virginians" was funded by the Virginia Commission on the Status of Women and was researched and written by a six-woman committee at the law school.
Although only 2,000 copies have been printed so far, the commission hopes to make an additional 10,000 copies available, Smock said. Copies will be sent to women's organizations, libraries and state agecies. She also said she expects some copies to be sold in book stores.
Many present laws are antiquated, the authors say, such as those on sterilization and rape. Diane Pitts, a third-year student from Arlington, says, "I wasn't aware of many of the outdated laws" in Virginia. For example, she refers to the Virginia law which states that a women must receive her husband's consent if she wants to be sterilized, unless the couple has lived apart for one year.
The handbook also includes several pages explaining the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and what it would mean if ratified.
Some other topics included are property rights of women, finances, taxes, social welfare laws, the criminal justice system and gay rights. A list of women's organizations which can be a source of legal help, and a glossary of legal terms are also included.