Ebony Clare’s shooting death was tragic. That it was her husband who allegedly pulled the trigger and shot her in the back at their North Charleston home is doubly tragic.
And then there is the devastating news that South Carolina, after some slight progress toward lowering the rate of domestic violence fatalities, has regressed. As of the end of 2017, South Carolina was tied with Tennessee as the fifth most likely state for women to be killed by men they know.
South Carolina has a shameful history of domestic violence. It has been one of the 10 states with the most domestic violence deaths since 1996. That is when the Violence Policy Center began publishing such data. The heinous trend could well go back much further.
In 2015, The Post and Courier reported in depth on the issue of domestic violence against women. The series earned a Pulitzer Prize and pushed the Legislature to toughen penalties for offenders and restrict offenders’ access to guns. That is when domestic killings data improved. That makes the worse FBI ratings from 2017 more discouraging.
The ranking ties the state with Tennessee for the fifth-highest rate of such homicides in the nation, with 2.01 of every 100,000 women killed in incidents with a single male attacker. The highest rate, in Alaska, was near 4 of every 100,000 women, and the national average for 2017 was 1.29 of every 10,000.
The picture of 2018 painted Tuesday by S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson during a ceremony in Columbia was grim, too. He called the names of 30 women who lost their lives last year across the state as a result of domestic violence. He also named 11 men who died due to domestic violence.
“This is a cycle of violence that must be broken in our state,” Mr. Wilson said. “All too often, not only is the life of the victim lost, but in many ways, we lose the children who grow up in a home where domestic violence is taking place.”
Ebony Clare’s husband, Romane Clare, 33, was arrested Sept. 29 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., more than two days after his wife died at Medical University Hospital. She had been shot twice in the back.
She also was shot in a leg by Romane Clare in 2014 before they were married. He was charged with attempted murder, unlawful carrying of a pistol and discharging a firearm in a home. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree assault and battery and unlawful carrying of a pistol. The third charge was dropped. He was given three years of probation in lieu of prison time.
A man who uses a pistol to shoot his girlfriend while in his home should not be allowed to possess guns again. If that assertion wasn’t obvious before, certainly Ebony Clare’s death makes an airtight case for it.
More must be done to curb domestic violence in a state that ranks among the nation's deadliest for women, despite signs of progress in the nea…
South Carolina needs to learn from its history, as ignoble as this aspect of its history is. The laws that have been enacted to address domestic violence must be taken seriously and heeded. Law enforcement officers who have reason to suspect domestic abuse must not shrug it off as a family matter. It’s far more. It’s a possible broken leg, fractured skull or killing. It’s another opportunity for children to learn that the way to deal with disputes is to pull out a gun or use their fists. It’s often a lesson to little boys that men must be in charge and must do whatever it takes to stay there. And it too often tells little girls they hold less value than boys.
Any domestic dust-ups, no matter how insignificant when compared to shootings, should put law enforcement officers on the alert for more. Doctors, teachers and social workers should report troubling behavior to the proper authorities. Not doing so is not doing the jobs they have been trained to do.
The warped culture that tolerates it when people physically assault the spouses, friends or partners they’re supposed to love and protect is not welcome in South Carolina.