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Social Issues
Burka Avenger: An Animated Superhero Fighting For Girls’ Right To Education In Pakistan
July 26, 2013
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There's a new superhero debuting on Pakistani television screens in August.

Like Batman, this new hero has a taste for all-black outfits.

But unlike Batman, she's a mild-mannered Pakistani teacher by day - and her outfit of choice isn't tight-fitting spandex, it's a burka.

Burka Avenger is the character's name, and also the name of the cartoon series she stars in, which is scheduled to start running on Pakistan's Geo TV in early August.

Although the trailer at the top of the page is in English, 'Burka Avenger' will be broadcast in Urdu (the Urdu-language trailer's right here).

The show, which is being billed as the first animated series ever produced in Pakistan, is the brainchild of one of the country's biggest pop stars, Aaron Haroon Rashid (best-known by his stage name Haroon).

He created the character as a positive role model for girls and someone who fights for girls' education and against discrimination.

"Each one of our episodes is centred around a moral, which sends out a strong social message to kids," Rashid told the Associated Press.

"But it is cloaked in pure entertainment, laughter, action and adventure."

burka-avenger-side.jpgThe decision to clothe the character in a burka "could raise eyebrows," Sebastian Abbot writes in the Associated Press piece, "because some people view the outfit as a sign of oppression."

But Rashid says the choice of outfit was not intended to be a controversial statement.

"She is using the burka to hide her identity like other superheroes," said Rashid. "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."

When she's not fighting injustice in her burka, the character (whose real name is Jiya) doesn't wear a burka, a headscarf or any other headcovering.

The show revolves around the adventures of young Ashu and her twin brother Immu, their best friend Mooli, and his pet goat Golu, who live in the fictional northern Pakistani town of Halwapur.

In each episode, they confront villains in the form of a corrupt local politician named Vadero Pajero and an evil magician, Baba Bandook, who is meant to resemble a Taliban commander.

burka-avenger-group.jpgIn the first episode, Pajero wants to shut down the local girls' school so he can keep the money a charity gave him to run it. Bandook helps him lock the doors to the school.

Burka Avenger steps in to save the day, but not before Ashu gets a rousing speech in:

"The girls of today are the mothers of tomorrow," says Ashu. "If the mothers are not educated, then future generations will also remain illiterate."

In addition to the 13 episodes of the show that have been produced so far, an album of 10 songs and music videos will accompany the show, and Rashid has created an iPhone game and an interactive website.


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