On Monday, this Quora post claimed that an Indian male student was denied an internship by a German professor, because of the "rape problem in India."
The rejected student then emailed the professor and uploaded her reply.
Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger told BuzzFeed India in an email that it was a misunderstanding:
Unfortunately this mail was a complete misunderstanding. Of course, I have nothing against male Indians, and I have accepted several Indian students in the past. However my lab is full and I currently cannot take any student. This led to an unpleasant discussion with one of the Indian student.
I apologise if this caused any misunderstanding, but the e-mail was taken out context.
Beck-Sickinger would not go into further detail about the context of the email.
Michael Steiner, the German Republic's ambassador to India, voiced his disapproval in a letter to the professor. He tweeted this image of said letter:
The letter reads:
Dear Professor Beck-Sickinger,
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. Let me make it clear at the outset that I strongly object to this.
The 2012 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. 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. 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. Let's be clear: India is not a country of rapists.
I would encourage you to learn more about the diverse, dynamic and fascinating country and the many welcoming and open-minded people of India so that you could connect a simplistic image, which - in my opinion - is particularly unsuitable for a professor and teacher.
According to The News Minute, professor Beck-Sickinger had also rejected another student's Ph.D application, in March 2014, because of India’s "rape culture". BuzzFeed India has reached out to the student but hasn't received a response yet.