Offers Quora internships to Indian students

"Unfortunately I do not offer an internship to Indian students"

The University of Leipzig is confronted with racism allegations because a professor has turned down an Indian student for an internship - with reference to rape in India. The biochemistry professor Annette Beck-Sickinger, member of the Science Council and University Council, justified her position in an email to the applicant as follows: “Unfortunately, I am not giving an internship to an Indian student. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India. I cannot support that. I have a lot of female students in my group ... "

In a second email to the student, the professor wrote: “I totally agree, this is a generalization that may not apply to specific people. But it is also incredible that Indian society has not been able to solve this problem for many years. Reports reach Germany on a weekly basis, especially these that “multiple rape crimes” are appalling. For me, however, they also demonstrate the attitude of Indian society towards women. Women tourists are also kidnapped by groups of men and then abused. "Then Beck-Sickinger explains her decision not to let the student in her department and continues:" Many female professors in Germany have decided not to send any to male Indian students for these reasons More internships available. Other European women's organizations are currently joining. Of course we cannot change or influence Indian society, we can only draw our conclusions here in Europe. "

This is seen differently in social networks. There, above all, accusations against the professor are loud. When confronted with the quotes that a friend of the Indian student had posted online, Beck-Sickinger said that they were probably true. However, they do not reproduce the entire content of the e-mails and have been taken out of context. "It may be that text blocks have been deleted," she said, pointing out that the connection established, that the Indian student was rejected for raping women in India, was wrong. “I reject students if they are not professionally suitable. I am open to the world and anything but racist. "

Nonetheless, the quotations from the two e-mails allow the interpretation that the rejection was not based solely on technical reasons, but is the result of reports of rape in India. After the quotes became public, the university management tried to limit the damage and sent a public apology on Monday as a press release on behalf of the professor. A very rare event in its form.

In the communication, Beck-Sickerer apologizes for her remarks and admits: “I made a mistake.” Then the scientist blames the student at least one part: The young man did not accept that she rejected him primarily because their laboratories were full. The student then had them "involved in a discussion about the social conditions in Germany and India". In this context, she had "raised the problem of rape of women in India". It is difficult to say to what extent the topic has rocked up in the email debate and what role rape in India really played in Beck-Sickinger's decision. If it had only been about laboratories in Leipzig, the detailed correspondence would actually not have been necessary.

For her part, the rector of the university, Beate Schücking, emphasized that there was no room for racist thoughts and expressions. “The proportion of foreign students at our university is increasing every year. We warmly welcome young students from abroad. Prof. Beck-Sickinger, who is also a member of the Science Council and the University Council and has a wide range of international experience, from the university's point of view, with her apology, has certainly taken the right path to avoid misunderstandings.

As a sign against the Islamophobic demonstrations by the Leipzig Pegida offshoot Legida, Schücking had recently made greater efforts to emphasize the cosmopolitanism of her university. Together with the rectors of the other universities in the city. Schücking appeared as a speaker at counter-demonstrations. But the scandal cannot be put out of the world with such confessions. Especially not in India, where the excitement over the attitude of the German professor is, as expected, high. “Shame!” Scolded the Indian news portal “India.com”. The reputation of their homeland is "globally polluted". That a young student had to suffer from it was "shocking". In summary, the statements meant nothing else: The man is Indian, so a potential rapist: He is a ticking time bomb, an instinct-driven guy because he comes from a country with a bad reputation. A user on the Internet platform “Quora” criticized: “This is blatant generalization and discrimination. And sexist in general ”. Others recommend suing the professor at the European Human Rights Tribunal. Or to make their emails public everywhere “to show how sick their mentality is. Miss her a lesson she deserves. ”The newspaper“ Hindustan Times ”claims to have found out that Beck-Sickinger already refused an Indian student's application in March 2014 - for the same reasons as in the current case. The student from back then would have contacted me.

Nevertheless, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, a woman is raped every twenty minutes in India. And that's just the official number. Violence against women is a huge problem on the subcontinent. Likewise the silence of a large part of the population. For this problem, it whispers through the social media, the hopeful academic must now atone "with his future and his career".

As the newspaper “India Today” reported, even the German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, has recognized the need for action. He wrote a letter to Annette Beck-Sickinger - in which he emphasized that India is not a country of rapists.