South Carolina again leads the nation in the rate of women killed by men, reports the State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. In 2001, 64 women were killed by men in the state – a rate of 3.15 per 100,000 residents, said the Violence Policy Center a Washington, D.C., research organization that advocates gun control. Of the women killed, 61 knew their assailants, and 41 were either wives, ex-wives or girlfriends of the offenders.
The numbers put South Carolina's homicide rate for women at more than twice the national average. It also was the state's highest rate in the six years the center has been putting out its “When Men Murder Women” report, based on FBI homicide statistics.
Homicide rates for the nation's five worst states were all higher than last year. In 2001, Alabama ranked second, followed by Nevada, Louisiana and Tennessee. South Carolina also ranked No. 1 in 1998 data.
Victims' advocates in South Carolina were saddened. “It's a continuing tragedy in South Carolina,” said Vicki Bourus, director of the Columbia-based S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “We never seem to move out of that top five. It's a state shame.”
Nancy Barton of Sistercare, which has two shelters for battered women, said: “We need state leadership on this issue. It needs to be this year, and we need to get going on it.” Will Folks, spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, noted that Sanford signed legislation this year making aggravated criminal domestic violence a felony and mandating counseling or sentences for repeat offenders.
Bourus said there should be a state law prohibiting convicted batterers from owning guns. Twenty-six S.C. women were killed with guns in 2001, the Violence Policy Center said. State Attorney General Henry McMaster said the state's ranking is “very sad and shameful. It emphasizes the need for serious prosecution for (domestic violence) cases from the beginning.”
The violence cuts across all socioeconomic levels. This year's study put the victims' average age at 36; six were younger than 18. An almost equal number of the victims were black or white, the report said.