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COLUMBIA, S.C. - Lawmakers were taped joking "Pop her ... pop her again" at a committee meeting when they tabled a bill aimed at strengthening state law against domestic violence.
The (Columbia) State newspaper published details Thursday of the meeting Tuesday of the state House Judiciary Committee. One legislator's comments to a female reporter after the meeting also caused an uproar.
"And they wonder why we rank in the bottom on women in office and we lead in women getting killed by men," Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said. House leaders said they plan to reintroduce the bill.
At Tuesday's meeting, according to the newspaper account, Rep. John Graham Altman asked why the bill's title "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)" just mentioned protecting women.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Harrison suggested calling the bill the "Protecting Our People in Every Relationship Act," or "POPER," the newspaper reported.
A voice on the tape is heard pronouncing it "Pop her." Then another says "Pop her again," followed by laughter.
"I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them," Altman told WIS-TV later. "I mean, you women want it one way and not another," he told the female reporter.
Laura Hudson of the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network called Altman's comments "very troubling." She said victims many times return to abusers because they have no other place to go.
Some 150 women marched on the Statehouse on Thursday to protest Altman's comments.
Severe instances of domestic violence, involving a deadly weapon or the threat of death or serious injury, are already a felony in the state. The bill would broaden the types of abuse classified as felonies.
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