Over the weekend, an anonymous poster on the question-and-answer website Quora, asked the community: “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?”
The poster included photos of an email exchange between professor Annette G. Beck-Sickinger, who works in the Institute of Biochemistry at Leipzig University in Germany, and the poster's colleague, an Indian male.
Beck-Sickinger told BuzzFeed India in an email that the exchange was taken out of context and claimed her lab was at full capacity and she couldn’t accept any more interns, regardless of their sex or ethnicity.
She wrote, “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.”
The email exchange outraged Michael Steiner, the German Republic’s ambassador to India. In response, he tweeted a letter that protested Beck-Sickinger’s actions. Steiner wrote, in part, "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."
Steiner concluded, "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."