Number of Rapes hits new high

From:    Claudia Slate
Subject: Number of Rapes hits new high

From the Washington Post:

More than 100,000 women reported being raped last year, a nationwide
record, and the rate of sexual assaults is increasing four times faster
than the overall crime rate, according to a Senate Judiciary Committee
Study released Thursday (03/21/91).

"These numbers show that rape has reached epidemic proportions in our
country," said committee Chairman Joseph Biden, Jr., D-Del.

The report noted that Michigan law enforcement authroities reported a 4.7
percent increase in rapes, while state rape crisis centers showed a
36% increase.  Louisianna records showed an increase of 0.3% in reported
rapes, but the state's central rape crisis center reported a 39% increase.

"The data. . . silences the skeptics who believe that the rising
rape rates are nothing more than a function of more women reporting
their rapes to police, the report said.

The five states reporting the greatest number of rapes were California,
Texas, Michigan, Florida and New York.

Experts have offered a variety of explanations for the increase, including
drug abuse and an increased willingness of women to report and talk about
the problem.  The committee report noted that the reported U.S. rape rate
is higher than in Portugal, Japan, England and Italy.

Biden cited the report to bolster the case for his Violence Against Women
Act, which would, among other things, double federal penalties for
rape and define rape as a "hate" crime, thereby allowing victims to
bring civil rights actions against assailants.