A German professor has apologized after apparently barring a male Indian student from an internship because of "the rape problem in India." In a now-viral email response to a male student, posted on website Quora, Annette Beck-Sickinger wrote, "I don't accept any Indian male students for internships." The University of Leipzig professor continued, per Time, "We hear a lot about the rape problem in India" and "I have many female students in my group, so this attitude is something I cannot support." Beck-Sickinger tells the Hindustan Times it was a "misunderstanding," but a second student claims the professor also turned down his PhD application, noting she wasn't accepting "any male Indian guests ... due to the severe rape problem in India."
Beck-Sickinger argues her comments were taken out of context and the first student was denied an internship because there were "no openings available in the laboratory," CNN reports, per an official statement. She tells the Hindustan Times that the refusal followed an "unpleasant discussion" with the student. "I am by no means racist or xenophobic in any way," she says. "I sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings I may have hurt." Still, Germany's ambassador to India has blasted Beck-Sickinger's actions in an open letter. "Let me make it clear at the outset that I strongly object to this," Michael Steiner writes. "India is not a country of rapists." He also notes India's "lively, honest, sustained, and very healthy public debate" about sexual assault while slamming Beck-Sickinger's "simplistic image" of Indian people.