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S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell has formed a committee to address the state’s criminal domestic violence (CDV) laws in an effort “to better protect our citizens and help prevent this type of abuse.”

“Our goal with this Special Committee is that, by the time session begins in January, the House will have a legislative framework ready to be introduced the first day we come back,” Harrell said in a statement announcing the formation of the committee. “Raising awareness and preventing domestic violence in South Carolina will be a priority for the House this coming year. Our state has several vital areas we need to improve upon and that is why it is important this Committee begin its work now.”

Ten lawmakers – five of whom are women – will comprise the committee, which held its first organizational meeting this week.

South Carolina ranked No. 1 in the nation in the number of women killed by men in 2011, the latest year for which data is available.  According to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center – the homicide rate for women in the Palmetto State was 2.54 per 100,000.  A whopping 91 percent of those deaths was perpetrated by someone who knew the victim – and 63 percent by the victim’s “intimate partner.”