Crime & Courts

South Carolina ranks No. 1 for deadly violence against women

South Carolina has again ranked worst in the nation for deadly violence against women, according to a report released Tuesday by the Violence Policy Center.

Ranking first among states for women murdered by men, South Carolina had a rate of 2.32 women killed per 100,000 people in 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available.

That’s more than twice the national average and represents 57 known deaths, compared with 50 a year earlier, according to the study.

South Carolina ranked second last year and has been in the report’s top 10 annually for the last 18 years. This is the fourth time that the state ranked worst in the nation.

The study found that nationwide, 94 percent of women murdered by men were killed by someone they knew, and the most common weapon used was a gun.

Domestic violence and gun ownership were widely discussed this past session in the South Carolina Legislature, which ultimately approved a bill aimed at stemming the state’s persistently high rate. The bill signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley both increases penalties and gives prosecutors more options for punishment.

Charges will now be based on a combination of the severity of the abuse and the number of offenses and circumstances surrounding the crime. The law also bans some batterers from having guns. In a statement, Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center commended states including South Carolina for tackling the issue but said more improvement is clearly needed.

“Yet in the face of these alarming statistics, more needs to be done at the federal and state levels to protect women from abuse and prevent future tragedies,” Rand said.

Haley’s task force, which has been meeting all year on domestic violence, issued dozens of recommendations last month, including training more 911 operators, improving documentation of the crime scene and increasing the number of shelters statewide.

Other recommendations include making paperwork for victims easier to fill out and more uniform and increasing the availability of emergency shelters.

The report comes just ahead of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study uses the latest data available from the FBI for crimes involving one male killing one female.


▪  Age: Five female homicide victims were less than 18 years old and eight victims were 65 years of age or older. The average age of female victims was 44.

▪  Race: Out of 57 female homicide victims, 43 were white, 21 were black, one was Asian or Pacific Islander and one was of unknown race.

▪  Most common weapons: For homicides in which a weapon could be identified, 60 percent of female victims were shot and killed with guns. Of those, 66 percent were killed by handguns. Six females were killed by knives or other cutting instruments, two were killed with a blunt object and nine were killed by bodily force.

▪  Victim-offender relationship: For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 96 percent of female victims were killed by someone they knew. Two female victims were killed by strangers.

▪  Circumstance: For homicides in which the circumstances could be identified, 83 percent were not related to the commission of any other felony such as rape or robbery. Of these, 73 percent involved arguments between the victim and the offender.

Harrison Cahill, The State