Hyderabad: As man vs bear debate rages on, concern grows over women safety

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: A one-off TikTok video has stirred a social media debate across the world, highlighting that most women fear an unrelated man more than a wild beast. Women around the world are being asked if they were alone in a forest, who would they run into… a man or a bear? A large number of women, not all, express a preference for encountering a bear over a man.

The debate, in reality, highlights the magnitude of violence against women, which is forcing them to choose bears in a hypothetical situation. While as most women around the world are echoing similar views, Siasat.com spoke with women from diverse backgrounds in Hyderabad, and here is what they say:

Most women choose bear!

Speaking with Siasat.com, an undergraduate student, Khushee, says, “I would really prefer running into a bear. At least the bear won’t molest or objectified me. I believe there are good men in the world. I haven’t met any I could trust.” 

An IT professional, Shruthi, says, “Not all men, but always a man! I would rather take my chances against the bear than hope a man wouldn’t rape me.”

Echoing similar views, 19-year-old Richa Kaushik says: “If a bear attacks me, no one would question what I was wearing.”

However, not all women choose a bear. A 22-year-old woman says, “A bear would tear me into pieces. I don’t want to die a horrific death.” 

Another woman, requesting not to be named, says, “I have learnt martial arts. If a man tries to do something, I am sure I can defend myself. I am not sure about a bear.” 

Men react

When asked why most women choose a bear, IT professional Abhishek, 22, says, “If a bear attacks a woman, who do you think they will come running to? Women need a man to protect them, but we are insulted at every chance.” 

A 24-year-old software engineer says, “When you asked other women, you sure they didn’t assume it was a teddy bear.”

A 26-year-old young businessman has an unusual take on the issue. “Just add ‘rich’ before the man, and then we will see who they chose run into,” he said.

When this reporter asked another student this question, he was visibly annoyed and said: “Do you even cover fake rape and harassment cases that women file?”

Some men, however, feel differently. “If it were my little sister, I would feel more safe if she ran into a bear than a man,” said a 22-year-old student.

Another man, a mechanical engineer by profession, says, “Given the violence against women and how society treats them, I understand why they chose a bear. Animal behavior can be predicted… men… you never know.” 

Expert speaks

“The bear vs. man debate is a testimony to the threat perception felt by women with regards to their safety in the society they live in. That several women chose bear over man is a reflection of the fact that women have experienced violence firsthand from men. It can be in the form of domestic violence within the so-called safety of home or sexual harassment or assault in public spaces,” says Ipsita Sapra, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Hyderabad.

According to the United Nations, one in three women across the world experience violence, physical or sexual, often by an intimate partner. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicates that crimes against women are rising in India. While a part of it is attributable to increased reporting, the fact the fact that over 4.45 lakh women reported violence in 2022 is a grim reality in India.

“To sum up, while violence by bears is far-fetched, violence by men is familiar and closer home,” Ipsita says, explaining why women chose bears over men, despite the obvious fright of the wild. 

In Telangana, on average, police receive one complaint of domestic violence every four minutes. According to the NCRB report, the rate of total crime against women per lakh of population in Telangana stood at 117. A total of 22,066 cases of crime against women were registered in Telangana in 2022. As many as 20,865 cases were registered in 2021, 17,791 in 2020, and 18,394 cases in 2019.

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