One in seven rapists is sentenced to four years or less in jail, figures showed today.
But the average prison term for rape is more than eight years, compared with just over six years for manslaughter, the Ministry of Justice figures showed.
The report comes after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke vowed to "reflect carefully" on his proposals to halve all sentences for offenders who plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.
Mother-of-two Gabrielle Browne, the victim of an attempted rape, met Mr Clarke earlier this week after declaring his plans were a "disaster" on the radio.
She said yesterday that she was sure Mr Clarke would consider her views before announcing his final plans and added she had been persuaded that his ideas were "fair enough" in an attempt to reduce victims' trauma and cut costs.
Of the 984 rapists jailed last year, 134 were given four years or less, the criminal justice statistics showed.
Two out of five (377) were given between five and 10 years, while one in five (188) was given more than 10 years but less than life.
A total of 13 rapists were sentenced to life in prison, with one in five (180) jailed indefinitely for public protection.
The average sentence was just over eight years.
The criminal justice statistics also showed that one person was jailed last year for every 93 crimes committed.
A total of 101,500 offenders were jailed in 2010, but 9,485,000 crimes were committed, according to the British Crime Survey.
The figures also showed the number of offenders with 15 or more previous convictions or cautions rose by more than 78% over the last decade to 96,710 last year, up from 54,242 in 2000.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said: "These statistics show that the number of criminals committing multiple crimes has risen dramatically over the last decade.
"This is further evidence that we need urgent reform to tackle reoffending and so cut crime.
"The justice system must continue to properly punish the guilty and protect communities by locking up serious and dangerous criminals.
"But it also needs to address reoffending by putting in place demanding programmes of both punishment and reform."