CHARLESTON, S.C. — South Carolina remains among the nation's deadliest states for women, according to a new report.
The Violence Policy Center looked at 2016 homicide data, which it said showed 48 women were murdered by men in South Carolina that year, a rate of nearly two women killed per 100,000 people.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization said South Carolina ranks sixth among states for its rate of women killed by men. The state has been in the top 10 for that benchmark for the two decades the Violence Policy Center has compiled its annual study.
The Post and Courier reports that domestic violence drives most of the bloodshed. Ninety-five percent of the South Carolina women knew their killers, and 69 percent were slain by current or former husbands or boyfriends, according to the report.
The fatality rate inched slightly down, with South Carolina dropping from the fifth-place spot it held among states a year earlier, according to the report.
Becky Callaham, director of the Safe Harbor network of shelters, said while incremental progress has occurred, South Carolina still has a long way to go in curbing the bloodshed from domestic abuse.
"Sixth in the nation is nothing to be proud of at all," she said. "It's nothing to plan a parade around or to pat ourselves on the back over."
Black women represented a disproportionate number of those killed in South Carolina, making up nearly half the death toll in a state where African Americans account for only 27 percent of the population.
The 2016 data, the latest year for which information is available, are the first to fully reflect any impact from changes enacted to South Carolina domestic violence laws that include harsher punishments and the loss of gun ownership rights for those convicted of domestic abuse.
More than 1,800 women died across the nation at the hands of men in 2016, the Violence Policy Center study found.
Among the dead in South Carolina was Deborah Rogers, a 50-year-old Berkeley County woman who died after her live-in boyfriend sliced her throat. Quadeedrah Clinton, a 38-year-old mother of five, was shot to death during a confrontation with her boyfriend, who now faces a murder charge. And Kristina Burroughs, a 40-year-old Horry County woman, was shot and killed by her boyfriend, who then gunned down her two young nieces before taking his own life.
A 2014 Post and Courier series showed more than 300 women had been killed in domestic violence incidents over a decade. The following year, state lawmakers enacted several measures seeking to address the problem, and then-Gov. Nikki Haley appointed a task force to study domestic violence deaths.
State Corrections Director Bryan Stirling, who chaired a subcommittee of the governor's task force, said the benefits of the legislative changes likely will become clearer with time.
"I think it will take a couple of years to see this," he said. "You can't change a culture overnight. To change a culture takes a lot."
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