German prof cites 'rape' to reject Indian application

German prof cites 'rape' to reject Indian application

Apologises for comment after intervention of envoy

German prof cites 'rape' to reject Indian application

A German professor of the Leipzig University in the Free State of Saxony rejected the internship request of an Indian student because she had “heard a lot” about incidents of rape in India and felt the attitude of Indians towards women was not “appropriate”.

Professor Beck-Sickinger apologised later, following the intervention of the Ambassador to India.

The incident came to light after the “colleague” of the Indian student posted the email interaction on a question-answer website Quora without the name of the student and the professor involved.

“Unfortunately, I don’t accept any Indian male students for internship. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support,” the professor had said in the letter.
“I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support,” Sickinger added.

However, the professor soon came under fire from German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner, who sent her a strongly worded letter condemning her ill-informed statements.

“I would encourage you to learn more about the diverse, dynamic and fascinating country and the many welcoming and the open-minded people of India so that you could correct a simplistic image, which in my opinion, is particularly unsuitable for a professor and a teacher,” the German envoy said. Steiner said the 2012 Delhi rape case had “refocused” attention on the issue of violence against women.

“Rape is indeed a serious issue in India as in most countries, including Germany. In India, the December 16 case has triggered a lively, honest, sustained and very healthy public debate of a quality that wouldn’t be possible in many other countries,” he said in the letter, posted on his twitter account.

“The Indian government and Indian civil society organisations are very committed to tackling the issue,” the ambassador said. After the intervention, professor Beck-Sickinger apologised for the comments.

“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 apologise and feel sorry for any misunderstandings,” Sickinger said in a statement, uploaded on the German embassy website.

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