A German professor at the University of Leipzig apologized Monday for denying an internship to a male Indian student by citing the “rape problem” in India. Michael Steiner, Germany’s ambassador to India, strongly condemned the professor's "discriminating generalizations against male Indian students."
The Indian student had reportedly sent an internship application to Annette Beck-Sickinger, a professor of biochemistry, but his application was turned down by the professor who reportedly replied stating: "We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so this attitude is something I cannot support,” and that she could not "accept any Indian male students for internships.”
Soon after the incident came to light when a colleague of the Indian student, who was not named, posted the emails on the question-sharing platform Quora on Sunday, Steiner wrote a strong letter criticizing Beck-Sickinger. "It has been brought to my attention that you denied an internship to a male Indian student, giving "the rape problem in India" as a reason. Let me make it clear at the outset that I strongly object to this.”
In his letter, Steiner also referred to the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case of a 23-year-old woman that highlighted the issue of violence against women in India.
"Yesterday we celebrated International Women's Day at the German Embassy here in Delhi with many local activists including many men. Your oversimplifying and discriminating generalization is an offense to these women and men ardently committed to furthering women empowerment n India; and it is an offense to millions of law-abiding, tolerant, open-minded and hard-working Indians,” Steiner wrote in the letter.
Hours later, Beck-Sickinger wrote in a statement posted on the university’s website, on Monday: "I have made a mistake," and added: “I sincerely apologize to everyone whose feelings I have hurt.”
Here are some reactions to the incident from social media users.
What a SHAME! An Indian student in Germany denied internship coz he's from a country with a "rape problem". WOW! They got it, but we DON'T..
— Monika Rawal (@monikarawal) March 9, 2015
German professor may be a racist or simply paranoid. We have such cranks at home as well. German Ambassador has done it well. Its enough.
— S l Habib (@irfhabib) March 10, 2015
Our 4th nomination, German Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger for rejecting an Indian student's application due to the "rape problem" #SOTD11
— Stupid of Today (@StupidOfToday) March 9, 2015
A German professor even denied an Indian student internship on grounds of India being a "Rape country". Congratulations BBC
— Abhishek Bansal (@iAbhishekBansal) March 9, 2015
A German Professor thinking you have rape culture is unfair. BBC thinking we have rape culture is unfair. Only rapes are fair. Fair country.
— SmittenKitten (@HighHeelsWaali) March 9, 2015