"Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists."
A series of emails between a prospective intern at Leipzig University and a professor at its institute of Biochemistry reveals that an Indian student was denied an internship due to India’s ‘rape problem’.
Originally posted on Quora by a colleague of the applicant, the exchange reveals several sweeping generalisations made by the female professor about Indian men: implicitly viewing Indian men as only potential rapists.
Prof Dr Annette Beck-Sickinger, an academic at the University of Leipzig, Germany, allegedly rejected a male Indian student’s application because she had several female students in the group, and was concerned over their safety.
Defending her decision, she also stated that ‘many female professors in Germany [have] decided to no longer accept male Indian students’.
Admitting that it was a vast generalisation and may not apply to all individuals, she insisted that the attitude problem is pervasive, and something which she cannot support.
She continued to write: “It is also unbelievable that the Indian society is not able to solve this problem for many years now.”
The professor added that although they can do little to secure this problem in India, they can surely control the consequences in Europe.
Snapshots of the email confirm the professor’s name with the suffixed university email address.
Heavily shared on Twitter, this has elicited an apt response from the German ambassador to India, Mr Michael Steiner.
He begins by objecting very strongly to her generalisation about the ‘rape problem’ in India.
He adds that rape is indeed a problem in India, like it is in many other countries including Germany.
Mr Steiner continues to state that the Indian government and civil society is gravely dedicated to mitigating the problem.
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.
Accusing the professor of under-employing her education and status, the ambassador charges her for offending women and men ardently committed to furthering women empowerment in India.
Suggesting that the professor replaces her over-simplified mindset by learning about ‘the diverse, dynamic and fascinating country’ and ‘the many welcoming and open-minded people of India’, the letter ends.
He states: “Let’s be clear: India is not a country of rapists.”
— Michael Steiner (@Amb_MSteiner) March 9, 2015
This may hint at the recent over-publicity of India’s unfortunate rape incidents. Perhaps, the intended message is being twisted out of proportion and context.
India is a country like any other, where prevention of rape and women safety is an important governmental mission.
Subjecting Indians to such a generalisation constructs a stereotype and furthering it becomes prejudice on which such discrimination is based.
Such actions are indeed shallow. However, we commend the German ambassadors quick and apt response to such discrimination.
The German Professor, Dr Annette Beck-Sickinger has reportedly since said ‘sorry’ for her views on India’s alleged ‘rape problem’ that she shared in her emails, insisting that she had not meant to ‘hurt anyone’s feelings’.