South Carolina ranked fifth in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men, which is a significant improvement from its worst-in-the-nation rate last year, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) study
The study, “When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2014 Homicide Data.” found a decline in South Carolina’s rate of women dying from domestic violence. The year is the most recent available from FBI crime data.
In last year’s ranking, South Carolina was first in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. The drop in rank was accompanied by a drop in the state’s rate of women murdered by men: from 2.32 per 100,000 women in 2013 down to 1.73 in 2014. The 2014 rate is still higher than the national average of 1.08 per 100,000. Alaska had the highest rate at 3.15, followed by Louisiana, Nevada and Oklahoma.
South Carolina’s status as the state where women were most likely to be killed by men helped spur legislation last year that tried to toughen penalties and restrictions on those charged with and convicted of domestic violence charges.
The 2014 FBI data would still date before the law took effect, but state VPC legislative director Kristen Rand told South Carolina Radio Network that she expects new requirements that keep guns out of the hands of abusers should help in curbing violence. “So we hope that over the next few years as we see that law take effect we’ll see South Carolina’s rate to continue to decline,” said Rand.
Rand said in the nineteen years that the report has been done, South Carolina has always placed high. “South Carolina has unfortunately all those years ranked near the top.”
The annual report is being released in advance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The study covers homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender, and uses data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Supplementary Homicide Report.
The study found that nationwide 93 percent of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew. The most common weapon used was a gun.
“Women are almost always killed by someone they know, and the majority are victims of domestic homicide. Local, state, and national policymakers must make preventing domestic violence a priority,” Rand said. “Guns in the hands of abusers can escalate domestic violence to homicide in the blink of an eye. Removing guns from a domestic violence situation is crucial.”
State lawmakers and law enforcement have also changed how non-fatal domestic violence cases are handled, in the hope of preventing a worsening situation that could end in death. The 2015 law bases the level of charges on the severity of the incident, rather than whether it was a first, second or third offense. Lawmakers also voted to create regional committees of law enforcement and social workers who review each fatal case to see if the system failed or could be improved.