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German Ambassador Admonishes Professor Over India Rape Comments

FILE - Indian physiotherapy students hold placards at a rally on the 1st anniversary of the fatal gang rape of a young woman in a bus New Delhi, India.

Germany’s ambassador to India has admonished a German professor over comments about India’s public debate on rape and women’s rights that drew widespread attention online.

Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger at Leipzig University turned down an Indian student applying for an internship citing what she called “the rape problem in India.”

Beck-Sickinger said many female professors in Germany are turning down male students from India for these reasons.

She wrote, “We hear a lot about the rape problem... I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support.”

The emails exchanged between the student and the professor went viral after they were posted online by the student’s colleague. The German ambassador to India responded to the controversy Monday saying, “India is not a country of rapists.”

Michael Steiner wrote a strong letter to the professor saying that her oversimplifying and discriminating generalization was an offense to millions of law-abiding, tolerant, open-minded and hardworking Indians.

The professor then apologized for her comments, saying she never had any intention of discriminating against Indian society. The German Embassy posted her apology on its website.

The problem of sexual violence in India has received widespread media coverage since the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi in December 2012.

Last week, the Indian government censored the broadcast of a documentary about the incident, in which one of the perpetrators expresses no remorse over the killing, claiming it would inflame tensions in the country. Critics said the government merely was trying to suppress debate over an important issue.

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