Shine On

Pakistan’s feminist cartoon character, Burka Avenger, is making waves

Her name is Burka Avenger and she fights local thugs who want to shut down an all-girls school in Pakistan. This cartoon character was recently featured in an exclusive Associated Press story and has since taken the media world by storm.

In the series, a mild-mannered teacher transforms into superhero Burka Avenger. (YouTube screen grab)In the series, a mild-mannered teacher transforms into superhero Burka Avenger. (YouTube screen grab)The 13-episode television series, to be broadcasted in Urdu, was created by Pakistani pop star Aaron Haroon Rashid and is set to hit screens in early August. It stars a mild-mannered female teacher who turns into a black burka-clad superhero by night. She takes on her enemies using a martial art called Takht Kabaddi, which uses books and pens as weapons.

In the first episode, an evil magician named Baba Bandook says, “What business do women have with education? They should stay at home, washing, scrubbing and cleaning, toiling in the kitchen.”

A child female character steps forward and says, “The girls of today are the mothers of tomorrow. If the mothers are not educated, then future generations will also remain illiterate.”

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Just then, the Burka Avenger comes to the rescue, launching a flying pen that breaks open the padlock on a school gate as the children cheer.

The series aims to educate and inform about the importance of women's education in a country haunted by the reality of Taliban members blowing up hundreds of schools.

"The main goals of the Burka Avenger TV series are to make people laugh, to entertain and to send out strong social messages to the youth that educate, enlighten and reinforce positive social behaviour," states the cartoon series website.

Rashid tells AP that the protagonist main character purposely wears a burka as a symbol of strength.

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“It’s not a sign of oppression. She is using the burka to hide her identity like other superheroes,” he says. “Since she is a woman, we could have dressed her up like Catwoman or Wonder Woman, but that probably wouldn’t have worked in Pakistan.”

The entire series was created in just over a year by a 22-member production team operating out of a small office in Islamabad, reports BBC.

What are your thoughts on the Burka Avenger cartoon series? Do you think it will serve to unite or divide Pakistan? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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