It’s not easy being poor, and being a poor child is particularly difficult, especially if you live in a state in the middle of a budgetary crisis, like Connecticut. And that’s rough, given that more U.S. girls live in poverty now than in 2007, pre-Great Recession, according to The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truth and Troubling Trends, a recent study from the Girl Scout Research Institute. Using data from the Census Bureau, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for Education Statistics, the report paints a scary picture of the economics of being a girl in the U.S. (Other research topics from the institute, founded in 2000 as an arm of the venerable girls’ organization, include the impact of reality television on girls, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs and girls.)
From the report:
• A total of 41 percent of American girls live in low-income households, compared to 38 percent in 2007. Low-income means that a family earns less than twice the federal poverty level, which in 2016 was $24,300 for a family of four. • More than half of African-American, Hispanic/Latina, and American Indian girls are considered low-income in the U.S.
• Connecticut has one of the country’s lowest girls’ poverty rates, at 13 percent.
Forty-eight hours. The Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence says pimps often approach teenage girl runaways within just 48 hours of running away. Pimps go where they know runaways congregate—the mall, the movie theater, the train station—and then they lavish attention on the most vulnerable. From there, pimps convince young girls—and, sometimes, boys—to sell their bodies. It’s gross, and it works, and until now, it’s gone mostly unnoticed.
The morning after Donald J. Trump was elected president, Kathy Fischer was greeted by her annoyed 15-year-old, Kelly. Election night was also a school night and the results were coming in slowly. Fischer, associate director of UConn’s Women’s Center, had promised she’d wake daughter Kelly after their candidate, Hillary Clinton, won. But when Fischer told her daughter the actual results, Kelly was stunned. Trump had let it be known he would not support a progressive agenda, or one that supports women.
In 2015, the Rev. Nancy Butler, the charismatic founder of Glastonbury’s Riverfront Family Church who died earlier this month, was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Neither the advanced degrees she and her husband, Gregory B. Butler, earned nor his experience as a corporate lawyer prepared them for the complexities of the health care system. “My wife gets sick and I don’t have a clue how to navigate,” Greg Butler said. “This stuff is enormously complicated. What does your insurance cover?
Now that America has elected Donald J. Trump as their 45th president, how might the New York entrepreneur’s administration affect women and children in the next few years? Some of this is pure conjecture, since Trump’s policy talks have been notably short on details. Trump has, however, repeatedly said he intends to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which would have grave effect on hundreds of thousands of families, if not more. Since 2010, the ACA has cut in half the number of uninsured citizens to a historic low of 8.6 percent of citizens, or 27.3 million people . A 2015 Congressional Budget Office study said that repealing the program would eliminate insurance coverage for about 22 million in 2017, and coverage of birth control and critical prenatal care might no longer be offered.
Now is the time to repeal a 40-year-old law that perpetuates inequality among women. The Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in certain circumstances, is unfair. The amendment targets women who rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. According to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, roughly two out of three adult women enrolled in Medicaid are between the ages of 19 and 44—the reproductive years. Abortions can run upward of $1,000, which places the (legal) procedure out of reach for most women living in poverty.
Building a new emergency housing system that would accommodate the privacy needs of victims of domestic violence in Connecticut has been complicated, frustrating work. When a person who is homeless is seeking to be housed, their name, age, and other details are entered into something called the Homeless Management Information System, or HMIS. This data is then used to direct people toward appropriate housing, and it’s a big part of why Connecticut is on track to ending chronic homelessness—the most pernicious kind—by the end of the year. But the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law in 1994, contains some strict confidentiality restrictions to protect victims of domestic violence. When a woman—and it’s usually a woman—escapes domestic violence, her first concern is safety.
As a nation, we are fat and getting fatter—and that means something entirely different for men than it does for women. On the medical side, a recent study says that obesity is three times more deadly for men than it is for women. The study, published in the July edition of the British medical journal The Lancet included 3.9 million adults in Europe and North America. The adults were between the ages of 20 and 90, none of them smoked, and none had any known chronic disease. So here’s irony: Though obesity is far more dangerous for men, women suffer the most social pressure over it, from the dieting industry, from their employers, and even from medical professionals.
In the last few years, groups that previously hadn’t worked together are joining forces to combat human trafficking. Yes, human trafficking right here in Connecticut. Those entities include agencies such as the Department of Children and Families, which you might imagine would work against trafficking, as well as groups such as the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut and the Connecticut Lodging Association. Truck drivers and motel workers see trafficking firsthand, and they need training to recognize it and act appropriately. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center, an anti-trafficking hotline, has received some 730 calls since 2007 that referenced Connecticut.
Is this any way to fight an epidemic? The Zika virus, which if contracted during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain, has been reported in at least 45 states, including Connecticut. There is no treatment for the infection, neither in patients who are pregnant and those who aren’t—though work continues on a vaccine. Of course, that work could go more quickly if there was adequate funding. Federal officials have known about the seriousness of the Zika virus for more than a year, yet important funding has been tied up in the worst kind of Washington impasse.