news Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 05:30

Dhanya Rajendran| The News Minute | March 9, 2015 | 06:20 pm IST

A German professor’s letter to an Indian student denying him an internship citing the ‘rape culture in India’ has created much furore.

The story first broke when an anonymous person, claiming to be a friend of the student, shared screen shots of two emails sent by Professor Annette G. Beck-Sickinger of Biochemistry and Bio-organic Chemistry at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

In the email, the professor writes, "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".

The professor had given her first reaction to The News Minute in which she claimed that her mail had been “taken out of context”.

But in details emerging now, it seems that it was perhaps not the first time that the professor had rejected an opportunity citing India’s rape culture. 

Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims that in March 2014, the same professor had refused his Ph.D application.

A screen shot of the email provided to The News Minute sent by the professor to the student says,

Dear Mr…..,
Thanks a lot for your application.
Unfortunately, I do no longer accept any male Indian guests, trainees, doctoral students, or post docs due to the severe rape problem in India.
I cannot support a society which is not able to respect females in any aspect. I think cultured people cannot close their eyes. 


TNM sent a questionnaire regarding the new development to professor Annette G. Beck-Sickinger, but she is yet to reply. 

The News Minute spoke to the 25-year-old Kumar (name changed) who currently is working in New Delhi. Kumar said that Professor Annette G. Beck-Sickinger had sent just one email denying opportunity to him. 

Kumar also said that though at the time of receiving the email he contemplated approaching the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), but eventually he dropped the idea because he was a student then and did not want to stretch the issue. 

“Today because I saw reports about another person having received a similar email from the professor, I decided to speak about my own experience too”, Kumar told The News Minute.

Earlier, the professor had claimed that her 2015 mail was a result of an unpleasant discussion with the student. "In my case, there was no discussion. This is the first and only mail she sent me. In fact she starts by saying thank you for application and jumps to the 'rape' theory," Kumar said. 

Though the authenticity of the email cannot be verified by TNM, the structure of the email, including the domain name of the university and the photograph of the professor, looks similar to the first set of emails.

On Monday, many had suggested that the professor's mail (put out on Quora) was due to the bad publicity generated by India's daughter, the BBC's documentary on December 2012 Delhi gangrape. 

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German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner has written in a strongly worded letter to Dr Annette Beck-Sickinger that “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.”

Read- “India is not a country of rapists”, German ambassador to India writes to professor

The University of Leipzig in a statement said that Professor Beck-Sickinger 'apologises for her unwarranted remarks'. It quoted Professor Beck-Sickinger saying: “I have made a mistake. I sincerely apologise to everyone whose feelings I have hurt."

Read- Indian student claims German professor denied internship over 'rape culture', professor responds