Leipzig University's main building, the Augusteum. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Germany's ambassador to India stepped into a university admissions row after a professor said she wouldn't accept a male Indian student for an internship because of the country's “rape problem”.
“We hear a lot about the rape problem in India, which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group,” Professor of Biochemistry at Leipzig University Annette Beck-Sickinger wrote in an email to the applicant.
She continued defending her position when a friend of his wrote to her in support.
“Reports reach Germany on a weekly base [sic], and especially these 'multi-rape crimes' are threatening, but for me also demonstrate the attitude of a society towards women,” she wrote.
“Of course, we cannot change or influence the Indian society, but only take our consequences here in Europe.”
But she found herself in for more publicity than she bargained for after a friend of the student she rejected posted the emails online
“I strongly object to this,” Germany's ambassador to India Michael Steiner wrote in an open letter
to Beck-Sickinger on Monday.
“Your oversimplifying and discriminating generalization... is an offense to millions of law-abiding, tolerant, open-minded and hard-working Indians.
“Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists.”
Professor Margret Wintermantel of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) said in a statement on Monday that the Leipzig case was a "regrettable one-off and apparently a huge misunderstanding".
"This case is in no way representative of German universities. They are reliable partners for bringing students from all over the world to Germany.
"In our work, DAAD strives towards an authentic culture of welcome in Germany and for world-wide partnerships."
Beck-Sickinger has since apologized for the email, telling the Huffington Post India
that "I apologize if this caused any misunderstanding, but the e-Mail was taken out of the context".
“Of course I have nothing against male Indians and I have accepted several Indian students in the past.” Beck-Sickinger continued.
“However my lab is full and I currently cannot take any student [sic]. This led to an unpleasant discussion with one of the Indian student."