Burka-Clad Wonder Woman is Pakistan's Latest Superhero


Malala Yousafzai‘s story has brought the international spotlight to the state of girl’s schools in Pakistan. But despite Malala’s ultimate triumph over the Taliban thugs that attempted to murder her for supporting education for girls, the situation for girls seeking schooling in Pakistan is grimmer than ever. Repeated attacks against female students and girl’s schools have pocked this summer amidst the global support for Malala.

But how do you narrate such a grim situation to children, arguably the only hope to turn the tides against the backwards Taliban as the next generation of leaders in Pakistan? Pakistani pop star Aaron Haroon Rashid, known more popularly as just Haroon, found one alternative to the silence: a cartoon show with a burka-clad heroine. “Burka Avenger” features a female teacher who moonlights as her town’s local hero, combatting with books and pens a group of thugs that threaten to shut down the girl’s school where she teaches.

The Burka Avenger, named Jiya in civilian life, doesn’t wear a burka when she’s not in Avenger mode. Haroon told Associated Press her conservative Islamic garb was meant to make the series locally-pertinent- these days, burkas are not a rare sight in Northeast Pakistan. The irony of the Burka Avenger wearing a burka, though, is that the Taliban forced women to wear them when they came into power in Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the Burka Avenger to double back, episode after episode, against corrupt bad guys hellbent on shutting her school down takes back the burka as symbol of oppression to the costume of choice for a badass protector of learning. The show is scheduled to start airing on Geo TV, one of Pakistan’s biggest TV networks, in early August.


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