Special Report part 3: The violence at home
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Every 12 days, a woman in South Carolina dies at the hands of her significant other. While most lawmakers agree something has to be done to stem the tide of domestic violence, it's rare for a bill to make it out of committee.
Lawmakers have taken up several bill that would create tougher penalties for abusers and keep guns out of their hands, but those proposals end up dying before they ever get close to a floor vote.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have dropped the ball.
And one of the few female legislators in Columbia admits it's tough to get anything done on this critical state issue. One of 22 female faces in the Statehouse is from Dorchester County.
Rep. Jenny Horne works in and understands the political landscape and knows what it takes to tackle sensitive issues like criminal domestic violence.
"It's just important to form coalitions, and in Columbia it's about relationships," she said. "If you look at the House and in the Senate, there were like 30 bills."
But those proposals addressing domestic violence failed to sway the legislature.
"We had numerous bills last session that did not pass. I think maybe only one of them passed and it dealt with getting orders of protection for animals," Horne said.
Noted Post and Courier reporter Doug Pardue researched the facts and figures for domestic violence.
"One of the top criminal domestic violence prosecutors, a woman, told me that domestic violence is largely a crime against women. But it exists in a system that's enforced by men. And that's very much the case here in South Carolina," said Pardue.
Horne doesn't know why the proposed bills didn't pass the legislature. Still, she believes the influence of her female colleagues can move all lawmakers to act.
"It does matter that women are at the table and having a conversation about education, healthcare, child protective services, domestic violence because we do have a unique perspective," she said.
A spokesman for House Speaker Bobby Harrell says there was a meeting in Columbia Thursday about domestic violence.
He says Harrell plans to appoint a committee to study the problem. That committee will be led by a female lawmaker, too.
It has yet to be formed, but it will be soon, Harrell's spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Horne says she plans to reintroduce some of the bills that failed when the legislature convenes again in January.