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Of rapists and racists
Recently, a female professor, Annette Beck-Sickinger, from the Institute of Biochemistry, Leipzig University, Germany, turned down an Indian male student's application for internship citing "rape problem in India" as the reason. The German professor's reasoning went thus:
"Unfortunately I don't accept any Indian male students for internships. We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support."

When the Indian applicant wrote back protesting that such reasoning amounted to gross generalisation, the professor replied, "I fully agree that this is a generalisation and may not apply to individuals. However, it is also unbelievable that the Indian society is not able to solve this problem for many years now. Reports reach Germany on a weekly base (sic), and especially these 'multi-rape crimes' are threatening, but for me also demonstrate the attitude of a society towards women. Also female tourists are kidnapped by groups of males and then abused."

Though the professor has since apologised and recanted her statement after online protests and the strong objection raised by the Germany's ambassador to India calling her views "simplistic" and "unsuitable for a professor and a teacher", her words once again underscore the prejudiced view that an average white European or American has of India and her people, often reinforced by the western media's fascination with any grisly happening in the developing world.

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's documentary "India's Daughter," which was telecast by the BBC in the UK recently, is a case in point. It is not difficult to see what prompted Udwin to make a documentary on the Nirbhaya case or to reconstruct how the British filmmaker must have gone about it.

Udwin who has already won a BAFTA ("British Oscar" as she calls it) found in the horrendous details of the Nirbhaya rape incident a fitting subject for another documentary. She knew fully well that her documentary and the related stories could be sold to foreign print and electronic media for a lucrative sum if she managed to pull off an interview with one of the convicts.

Bankrolled by BBC, she went about her task doggedly. She put her connections and money to good use and managed to interview a few rape convicts lodged in Indian prisons, while keeping all along her focus on the 'headliner', Mukesh Singh, a convict in the Nirbhaya case who was party to the barbarity perpetrated. In other words, Udwin chose to milk the Nirbhaya case for all it's worth using her interview with Mukesh Singh as the USP. And not surprisingly the publicity line for Udwin's documentary ran thus: "For the first time, the face of evil, the rapist speaks on camera."

Following the controversy generated by the video, Udwin said in her defense, "It wasn't the rape that got me thinking. . . . It was the protests [by the common Indians]. I was utterly inspired by those people who went and stood in those circumstances. It's not like they were out on a sunny day chanting. It must have been the hardest thing for them to keep that momentum up. And I was so awed by their courage, commitment and passion. And I said if I don't go out there with my filmmaking skills, which is all I can do, and do something to amplify that voice, what sort of a human being am I?"

However, what Udwin has unfortunately ended up amplifying with her considerable filmmaking skills is the voice of the rapist Mukesh Singh and perverted men like him.

In another related write-up published on the BBC website, Udwin narrates how she interviewed an Indian convict who had raped a five-year-old girl. Says Udwin in lurid details that sound more like voyeuristic fascination than sensitive reporting: "I spent three hours filming his interview as he recounted in explicit detail how he had muffled her screams with his big hand. He was sitting throughout the interview and had a half-smile playing on his lips throughout - his nervousness in the presence of a camera, perhaps. At one point I asked him to tell me how tall she was. He stood up, and with his eerie half-smile indicated a height around his knees. When I asked him how he could cross the line from imagining what he wanted to do, to actually doing it - given her height, her eyes, her screams - he looked at me as though I was crazy for even asking the question and said: She was beggar girl. Her life was of no value."

From all her exertions of this kind, Udwin emerges 'enlightened'. Like the afore-mentioned German professor, Udwin finds everything wrong with India - her men, her society, her culture. For Udwin, it is "all part of this disease, this culture." In her view, men like Mukesh Singh live in a society "where this is pretty normal."

And, pray, what type of society does Udwin live in? According to the official statistics bulletin on sexual violence, "An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales", released in January 2013 in the UK, (i) Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year; (ii) Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year; and (iii) 1 in 5 women (aged 16 - 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

But then, one can bet that Udwin would not call her British culture a "disease"; nor would she interview someone like Jack the Ripper and form her opinion about British society or British men.

And the afore-mentioned German professor would not dare to reject a German male student's application citing the reason that Germany unfailingly figures in the top ten countries with highest rape crimes in the world. Neither would she say that she does not accept any German male student for internship as she fears for the safety of the female students in her group, nor would she wonder why the German society is not able to solve this problem for many years now.

The long and the short of it is, these two women are not just ill-informed. They are racists.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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