Second Indian student 'rejected by German professor because of India's rape problem'

Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger has apologised for her comments but says they were taken out of context in 'faked' email that went viral

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The Independent Online

A second male Indian student has come forward saying he was rejected for an internship with a German professor because of India’s “rape problem”.

Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger, a biochemistry lecturer at the University of Leipzig, has been widely criticised and even written to by the German ambassador in Delhi after an alleged email from her to a first student went viral.

In the original message, posted to the Q and A website Quora, the professor was accused of telling an applicant: “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 friends in my group, so I think this attitude is something that I cannot support.”

Prof Beck-Sickinger has denied ever sending an email in this form, and her university is standing by her – but a second Indian man has now made similar claims against the teacher after he was made aware of the furore.

The student, who did not wish to be identified, told BBC News the professor wrote to him in early 2014 saying she “no longer accepts any male Indian guests, trainees, doctorial students or PostDocs due to the severe rape problem in India”.

“It was a bit of a shock that a scientist would have an attitude like that,” he said.

Leipzig University confirmed to the BBC that while Prof Beck-Sickinger had exchanged emails with the second man, they have since been deleted. It nonetheless said she “never answered an application in that way”.

In an earlier statement posted to the university website, Prof Beck-Sickinger apologised if anyone had been offended by the comments in the original email but added that they came “in a discussion about the social conditions in Germany and India”.

She said the student had been rejected initially because there were no spaces left, and that the email that went viral had been cobbled together out of statements made in a later, heated exchange on “the problem of rape of women in India”.

University president Professor Beate Schücking said the incident was being reviewed by the university, but added that she had seen the original email chain and supported the professor’s “escuse”.

Schücking said the email as it appeared online had “obviously been faked” to take out of context statements “in reply to a provocative email”. She nonetheless said she “does not tolerate these comments”.

India has been the subject of intense media scrutiny regarding social attitudes towards rape. Last week, the Indian government issued an order to block the showing the documentary India’s Daughter, the subject of which was a brutal 2012 brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.

According to crime statistics on the Nation Master website, Germany has the 43rd highest proportionate rate of rape in the world whilst India is in equal 94th. Figures only take into account rape incidents that are reported to the police.