New Delhi: An Indian student's internship request was rejected by a professor in Germany citing "rape problem" in India, prompting a sharp reaction from the German envoy here who condemned it saying India was not a "country of rapists".
Professor Beck-Sickinger of Leipzig University in Free State of Saxony had rejected the internship application, saying she does not accept any Indian male student for internship.
"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," Sickinger said in a reported email.
A colleague of the Indian student, who applied for the internship, posted Beck-Sickinger’s emails on question-sharing platform Quora asking for advice on how to react to the response. The exchange then went viral.
In a statement, Leipzig University said Beck-Sickinger had rejected the student’s application for a job as a part-time trainee on the grounds that there were no vacancies. It added that the student would not accept the refusal and started a discussion about German and Indian societies.
Taking note of the incident, German Ambassador Michael Steiner wrote a strong-worded letter to the professor following which she apologised for her "unwarranted remarks" in the rejection letter to the student whose identity is not known.
"I have made a mistake. I sincerely apologise to everyone whose feelings I have hurt," Sickinger was quoted as saying by the German embassy in a release here.
In his letter, Steiner said, "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.