Palmetto Sunrise: A sinister 'Till Death Do Us Part' in South Carolina

The South Carolina House of Representatives is empty after the end of the term. The last time the Legislature acted to strengthen domestic violence laws was a decade ago when fines and sentences were increased for repeat offenders.

State lawmakers introduced 12 bills during this past legislative session to try to address the deadly and consistent violence against women in every corner of the Palmetto State.

By the time the legislative session ended in June, all but one of the domestic violence bills had died in committee.

The lone exception: a measure approved by the Legislature in early June and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley. It provides for court-ordered protection for the pets of the victims of domestic violence.

Bakari Sellers, the Democratic House member from Denmark, said the Legislature's failure to pass any of the bills to protect domestic abuse victims, yet pass one to protect their pets, offers a sad commentary.

"When you say it like that, it's laughable. Then you have to stop and say, 'You know it's not funny.' A woman dying: It supersedes all politics, but it apparently doesn't supersede ignorance."

The Legislature's inaction on the issue is just one part of perhaps the Palmetto State's most notorious ranking: No. 1 in the country in violence against women.

The Post and Courier's seven-part series by Doug Pardue, Glenn Smith, Jennifer Berry Hawes and Natalie Caula Hauff on domestic violence, 'Till death do us part, runs in print through Sunday and is available in whole online. We'd say it's a must read for any resident of South Carolina.

A look at the series:

WEDNESDAY: South Carolina's top officials and lawmakers express shock and concern over the state's rank as the most deadly in the nation for women, yet little is being done to stem the death toll that is more than double the national rate.

THURSDAY: State lawmakers had an opportunity during the last legislative session to tackle the problem, yet 12 bills to do something died.

FRIDAY: Some of the deep-seated beliefs of South Carolinians, including religion and tradition, foster the state's No. 1 status in the rate of women killed by men in domestic violence.

SATURDAY: Numerous public and private organizations - from police and courts to women's shelters and religious groups - deal with domestic violence across South Carolina, yet effective coordination and cooperation remains almost non-existent.

SUNDAY: Possible solutions to help reduce the violence and the death toll.