2nd Indian student claims German professor rejected him over country’s ‘rape problem’
Biochemistry professor Annette Beck-Sickinger came under heavy fire for allegedly telling a student that she does not approve “any Indian male students for internships.”
The original message attributed to Beck-Sickinger was posted to the question-and-answer site Quora. It read:“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.”
After the exchange when viral, the professor drew the ire of critics around the world, including a written rebuke from the German ambassador in New Delhi.
The professor denied sending the email in this form and her university has so far supported her. University president Beate Schucking has stood by the professor, saying in a statement Wednesday: "The alleged refusal email which has been spread on the internet never existed in this form."
“Her comments on the issue of violence against women in India were not her first answer, but were made in reply to a provocative email which followed the initial email. To say it clearly: I do not tolerate these comments. However, I accept Professor Beck-Sickinger's excuse. And I can say: the published email has obviously been faked."
She added that the incident is under internal review at the university.
On Thursday, however, a second Indian man has now come forward, accusing the professor of rejecting his application on the same grounds.
The student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC that that the professor wrote in him at the beginning of last year, explaining that 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,” the man said.
The university has said that that email exchange has since been deleted, but has denied that student’s allegations. Beck-Sickinger did not reply to the BBC’s request for comment. However, the university’s press office told BBC that there are four Indian students in the professor’s Master’s program, two of them male, and two male Indian students in her laboratory internship program.