Fiction has always been a place for people to address the issues of the day, and the newest addition is a cartoon that some may find odd, but others empowering: ‘The Burka Avenger.’
Created by British-Pakistani pop star, Haroon, ‘The Burka Avenger’ addresses the issues that Pakistani’s are facing today with an interesting twist. The hero is a woman who is shows her face during the day when she’s a school teacher, but dresses in a burqa by night in order to defend girls’ schools.
The burqa is a controversial thing. Some find it a symbol of oppression, while others argue that it allows them equality as they aren’t viewed simply as a sexual object. Whatever one’s viewpoint, it’s hard to argue that the Burka Avenger doesn’t turn both of those viewpoints on their head. In an interview with CNN, Haroon explains:
“She doesn’t use the burqa because she’s oppressed. She uses it, she chooses to wear it to hide her identity the way superheroes wear their costumes to hide an identity. Like Batman or Catwoman… By wearing a burqa she is showing she is a Muslim woman and superhero. And that she stands for all the good things of Islam and the real Islamic values — which are equality, woman’s rights, education and peace — rather than the way Islam has been hijacked by radical elements.”
Inspired by the destruction of schools in 2007, and spurred by the shooting of the teenage girls’ education advocate, Malala Yousafzai, the intent of the show is to show that girls’ education is not anti-Islamic.
The Burk Avenger’s special super hero powers are from training with a master of Kabbadi, a made up martial art that means to fight with books and pens. “It gives the message of the importance of education and that the pen is mightier than the sword,” Haroon says.
Aside from the battle for girls’ education, the episodes will also deal with deep conflicts in Pakistan, including discrimination, child labor, sectarian violence, and environmental protection.
You can watch Haroon’s interview with CNN below.
‘The Burka Avenger’s thirteen episode run will start in mid-August 2013, after the festival Eid ul Fitr.