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“India is not a country of rapists”

Foreign students in Germany (Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa)

Foreign students in Germany (Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa)

An email to an Indian student from a German professor rejecting his application because of the ‘rape problem’ in India has gone viral. While many people criticized the attitude of the professor, some focused on a different aspect of the problem.

The firestorm began when an Indian student, whose name is yet to be discovered, published a screenshot of an e-mail on an online forum recently. The student has asked the following question to the forum: “What should an Indian male student do if he is denied an internship opportunity on the basis of India being projected as an unsafe country for women?”

Social media folks soon picked up on the issue. Hashtag #GermanProfessor has emerged, and almost everyone started grilling the professor about her remarks on India. Here are some of the tweets related to the issue:

German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, has taken the issue seriously. He tweeted a letter on March 9, 2015 that he sent to Annette Beck-Sickinger, a biochemistry professor at Leipzig University, who rejected the internship application from the Indian student.

Steiner accused the professor of an “oversimplifying and discriminating generalization” in dealing with the student applicant. Steiner said the reason given for the refusal of the internship would offend millions of law-abiding Indians. “Let’s be clear: India is not a country of rapists,” he wrote in the letter.

Apart from criticizing the German Professor, some people also pointed out the fact that ‘rape problem’ in India is hurting its image badly. Indian journalist based in Germany, Manasi Gopalakrishnan, wrote in her personal blog, ”India needs to finally realize how serious the problem of rape is, and more than rape, how its society needs to change attitudes against women.”

According to statistics, a rape is reported in India, on average, every 21 minutes. International media have been covering the problem intensively. Indian government banned a BBC documentary about rape in India recently. That decision also received huge criticism on social media.

Meanwhile, in the face of widespread criticism for her remarks, Beck-Sickinger apologized for the ‘rape problem’ rejection. In a statement, published on the Leipzig University website on March 9, 2015, she said, “I have made a mistake.”

However, Beck-Sickinger also mentioned that she did not write the email as the way it appeared on the internet. “I never wrote the mail in this way, it has been put together from individual segments taken from different mails.”

Author: Arafatul Islam

Editor: Marjory Linardy

You can follow Arafat on Twitter @arafatul



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11.03.2015 | 17:15