German professor apologizes after denying internship to Indian student citing India's ‘rape problem'

Get this: An Indian male student was recently denied an internship at the  Leipzig University in Germany because he comes from a country with a "rape problem." The professor even engaged in an email exchange with a friend of the applicant, where she justified her decision as a "consequence" of India's "attitude" towards women, and suggested that other female European professors were also practising her policy.

The move led to widespread criticism following which the German Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, objected strongly to the exchange, which ultimately led to an apology by the professor.

"I made a mistake. I never had the intention of discriminating against Indian society. I have nothing at all against students from India - quite to the contrary. If I hurt anybody's feelings, I duly and heartily apologize and feel sorry for any misunderstandings," Professor Sickinger said in a statement uploaded on the German embassy website.

A thread of emails reproduced on Quora reveals that the University's professor Annette Beck Sickinger denied the  Indian male student an internship  at Institute of Biochemistry, saying that they don’t take Indian male students because they might commit crimes like rape.

The email reads, " Unfortunately I don’t accept any Indian male students for internships. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support.”

German professor apologizes after denying internship to Indian student citing Indias ‘rape problem


When the student tries to convince her otherwise, the professor replied, “I fully agree that this is a generalisation and may not apply to individuals. However, it is also unbelievable that the Indian society is not able to solve this problem for many years.” The student's emails, however, were not made public.

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Taking note of the incident, German Ambassador Michael Steiner wrote "Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists."

"In India, the Nirbhaya case has triggered a lively honest, sustained and very healthy public debate - a public debate of a quality that wouldn't be possible in many other countries.

"The Indian Government and Indian civil society organisations are very committed to tackling the issue. Yesterday we celebrated International Women's Day at the German Embassy here in Delhi with many local activists including many men," he said in the letter.

He said the Nirbhaya rape case has refocused attention on the issue of violence against women. "Rape is indeed a serious issue in India as in most countries, including Germany."

"Your oversimplifying and discriminating generalization is an offense to these women and men ardently committed to furthering women empowerment in India; and it is an offense to millions of law-abiding, tolerant, open-minded and hard-working Indians," he said.

The denial of the itnernship comes just days after the BBC Documentary, India's Daughter, which highlights purportedly highlights the misogynist mindset of India's men, was banned in India.


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Updated Date: Mar 10, 2015 07:54:51 IST

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