The German envoy to India has criticized a university professor after the academic refused an internship to a male Indian student over the country’s “rape problem”.
Ambassador Michael Steiner accused Leipzig University biochemistry professor Annette Beck-Sickinger of “oversimplifying and discriminating generalization”.
In an email exchange with the student – subsequently leaked to the press – Professor Beck-Sickinger said that her laboratory does not accept Indian male students because “we hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support.”
She remains steadfast even as the student accuses her of generalizing.
In a letter to Professor Beck-Sickinger, Mr Steiner says: “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… I strongly object to this.
“Let’s be clear: India is not a country of rapists,” he added.
In a statement she issued via the university, Professor Beck-Sickinger said she had made a mistake and “I sincerely apologise to everyone whose feelings I have hurt”.
The emails were “taken out of context” she said, adding that she had rejected the student as her laboratories were full.
However he had not accepted this and then involved her in a discussion about social relations in Germany and India, during which she had brought up the issue of rape of women in India.
The abuse of women in India has been in sharp focus this week in the wake of a BBC documentary into the December 2012 rape of a young student on a Delhi bus.
The documentary was banned from broadcast in India, sparking widespread condemnation.