An article Thursday about rape statistics incorrectly said the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 0.05 percentage of U.S. women were raped in the last year. The correct figure is 0.12 percent for 1988, the most recent year for which such data are available. Also, the source of the figures, reported incorrectly, was the bureau. (Published 9/5/90)

More than a quarter of the women responding to a survey reported being victims of rape or attempted rape during their teenage or adult years, a researcher told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

The survey, University of Arizona psychology Prof. Mary P. Koss said, indicates that government figures on rape are unrealistically low. In the past year, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that .05 percent of American women had been raped, she said. Of the women in Koss's survey, 2.8 percent reported having been raped in the past year.

"The dollars spent to collect the {bureau's National Crime Survey} data on rape are, in effect, a waste of federal funds," she said in written statement. "This compromised data creates a false picture of rape as an infrequent crime and, as a result, blunts societal concern about the extent to which American women are victimized."

The bureau declined to comment.

Koss spoke at a hearing on the Violence Against Women Act, which was introduced in June by committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.).

The bill would extend civil rights protection to victims of sex-related crimes so that they could seek compensatory and punitive damages in federal courts. It also would double federal funding for battered women's shelters to $75 million and would authorize $25 million to help local prosecutors and courts set up special spouse abuse units.

Under new provisions, which Biden announced yesterday, the measure would increase funding for rape education and prevention in schools, establish a program for rape education on college campuses and require colleges and universities to tell rape victims about the outcome of any disciplinary proceedings held against their attackers. The new provisions would cost about $50 million.

Biden said he decided to add the provisions because many women had written him after he introduced the bill saying that they had been raped by people they knew.

"Rape by someone the victim knows -- usually referred to as 'acquaintance rape' -- is 'real rape' . . . and may even be more devastating to its survivors," he said.

Koss, who testified on behalf of the American Psychological Association, mailed questionnaires to about 5,000 women employed at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a private hospital. She received responses from 2,291 employees. The women's average age was 36, and more than 80 percent of those raped knew their attackers, Koss said.

In faulting how the government collects data on rape, Koss singled out the type of questions asked in the bureau's crime surveys. Rather than directly asking whether someone was forced to have sexual intercourse, the bureau first tries to ascertain if the person was threatened with physical harm, such as being beaten or injured with a weapon. Bureau questioners then ask, "Did anyone try to attack you in some other way?" The second question is used by the bureau as a way of calculating the incidence of rape, Koss said.

She also criticized the bureau for frequently interviewing women in the presence of family members and frequently using interviewers from different racial or ethnic backgrounds than those of the respondents.

"To the extent that rape is viewed as stigmatizing, many people are unlikely to disclose it to a stranger of the opposite sex," she said. "This methodology is especially detrimental among several major ethnic groups whose mores dictate that women do not speak to men about sexual matters."

A bureau spokesman, who asked not to be named, said the bureau's survey form does not ask specific questions about rape because the bureau does not want to bias its findings. He said that if a person answers that they were attacked "in some other way," the bureau interviewer would follow up with a question such as, "What happened next?"

"By their description, we determine what kind of an offense occurred," he said. "We classify the crime according to our own definition."

The bureau defines rape as "carnal knowledge through the use of force or the threatened use of force," he said.

Koss told the committee that her survey did not rely on a respondent's personal definition of rape. She said her survey, using Ohio law as a guide, asked women whether they had been coerced into vaginal intercourse after the use of physical force or threats.