The report of the Gender Bias Study of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was released in May 1989. After a thorough study of the areas of family law, domestic violence and sexual assault, criminal and juvenile justice, civil damage awards, gender bias in courthouse interactions, and court personnel, the study committee concluded that there was significant gender-based bias in the courts. The following article demonstrates how bias affected one woman and her children, and how, in spite of it and with the help of individuals and institutions in the private sector, she has attained empowerment and a chance for economic independence. Both the study and the author provide recommendations for women in similar circumstances, for public policymakers, and for professionals in the judicial branch.



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