"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.