Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Tuesday, 10 March 2015

German Professor Slammed For Rejecting An Intern Because Of 'India's Rape Problem'

The Debrief: Germany's ambassador to India has denounced the rejection email, which refers to 'the rape problem in India'

It’s fair to say that India has a rape problem, just as it’s fair to say that the UK has a rape problem, and that America has a rape problem. It does not, however, mean that everyone from a particular country should be branded a rapist, which is why a professor’s decision to turn down an intern on the basis of India’s rape problem has been met with understandable outrage. 

‘Unfortunately, I don’t accept any Indian male students for internships,’ wrote Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger, chair of biochemistry at Leipzig university in a response email to the male intern’s application. ‘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.’ 

The applicant posted the response on Quora, a question and answer site, asking how he should respond – and it quickly went viral.

The university responded with a statement, saying that Professor Beck-Sickinger had rejected the applicant because there were no vacancies, and that the student wouldn’t accept the refusal, which led to the response that is doing the rounds on the internet.

Professor Beck-Sickinger said: ‘I never had the intention of discriminating against Indian society. I have nothing at all against students from India – quite the contrary,’ she said in the university’s statement. ‘If I hurt anybody’s feelings, I duly and heartily apologise and feel sorry for any misunderstandings.’

Even if the student had not accepted the refusal, there’s no context wherein it’s acceptable to infer that someone is a rapist because they’re from India.

Understandably, Germany’s ambassador to India has written an open letter to the professor, denouncing her behaviour: ‘I would encourage you to learn more about the diverse, dynamic and fascinating country and the many welcoming and open-minded people of India so that you could correct a simplistic image, which – in my opinion – is particularly unsuitable for a professor and teacher.’

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Tags: India, Germany, Rape