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What's with the name?

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Firsts

Burka Avenger: Pakistan’s First Animated Female Superhero Is A Teacher By Day, Crime Fighter By Night



Pakistan’s newest TV superhero, Burka Avenger, is not only the first animated female superhero for the country, but a woman with a mission. That mission is to promote girl’s education in the country, on and off screen. The new show, from Pakistani pop star Haroon, features Jiya, a teacher at an all girl’s school who protects the school from various villains, including a corrupt politician and an evil, anti-women’s education magician. Jiya dons a burka at night and quite literally uses her teaching tools, including pencils and books, to foil her enemies’ schemes and keep the school open for her students.

The new kid’s show aims to promote value in education, especially for females, as well as religious tolerance, in an area where the Taliban continues to try to suppress women’s education and attack female students and schools in the country. Through action and humor, Burka Avenger allows a female schoolteacher with considerable ninja skills to defeat misogynistic enemies who express sentiments like “what business do women have with education? They should stay at home, washing, scrubbing and cleaning, toiling in the kitchen.”

Children have characters to relate to in the form of twins Ashu and Immu, and their friend Mooli, who populate the fictional town of Halwapur and even have their own moments to shine as young voices for education. Early on, Ashu stands up for her school, speaking against corrupt, gold medallion wearing politician Vadero Pajero and evil magician Baba Bandook as they attempt to shut down her school.

Pop star Haroon used a good amount of his own money, as well as some from an anonymous donor, to create the Urdu-language show, which teaches various lessons, entertains, and features music by him and other popular Pakistani musicians. The show includes the bright colors and slapstick comedy of any animated children’s show, but has one crucial goal that kids are already picking up on. Yahoo collected the sentiments of orphaned children living outside of Islamabad, who were provided with an early look at the show, and the kids responded positively to the action and humor, and a protagonist who both

saved kids’ lives.. [and] motivated them for education and school.

The show’s creator has been asked about the decision to make Jiya’s disguise a burka, with some ninja flair of course, as the Taliban has forced women in Pakistan to wear burkas in the past, turning the religious garment into a sign of oppression for some. Haroon explained to Yahoo! that,

It’s not a sign of oppression. She is using the burka to hide her identity like other superheroes. 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.

Head over to Comics Beat if you want to see the english language trailer, coming to Geo TV in august.

(via Yahoo!, Comics Beat)

Previously in Girls’ Education

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  • http://kat-a-pult.blogspot.com Kat_Rocha

    Um… this character reminds me so much of Kekko Kamen.

  • AverageDrafter

    Wow, this is actually pretty amazing. Education is a true superpower in an oppressive society.

    BTW, the Burka can be a tool for oppression or personal and religious expression. Look at the ridiculous ban in France and the women who wear burkas because they WANT to, but are forced by law not to.

    To me this is just as oppressive as being forced to wear one in the fist place.

    It all comes back to rampant paternalism forced on adult women who aren’t given the option to make choices for themselves. I apologize on behalf of dumb ass men (and women) everywhere who think they have the right to determine what is best for you without a whittle of knowledge about what the hell they are talking about.

    That’s right, F-You Texas legislature. F-You right in the A.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/SgtPiddles Sergeant Piddles

    NINJA POWERSSSS. I’m imagining her throwing pencils and books like shuriken.

  • Charlie

    This makes me chuckle because my niece loudly asked if a lady on the bus wearing a burkha was a ninja.

  • Anonymous

    This Burka Avenger looks too badass to ignore. Hey Cartoon Network! Hint, hint?

  • http://www.weyrcat.com/ Janna Ellis-Kepley

    Dude! I know!! There’s an English trailer so I’m hoping that means we can see some English dubbed episodes too!

  • Herbert West

    “It’s not a sign of oppression.”

    And then…

    “[...]we could have dressed her up like Catwoman or Wonder Woman, but that probably wouldn’t have worked in Pakistan.”

  • Nick Gaston

    Boy…y’know how much flak BATMAN can get for letting supervillains live when they’re operating and repeatedly mass-murdering people within in his territory?

    Just sayin’. Y’know, good luck with the PR, Burka Avenger.

  • Jennifer

    Okay people, Pakistan; I repeat, PAKISTAN, has a female superhero on TV and we don’t even have a Wonder Woman cartoon in America. And I just cannot even articulate how awesome I find this show.

  • Anonymous

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    It all comes back to rampant paternalism forced on adult women who
    aren’t given the option to make choices for themselves. I apologize on
    behalf of dumb ass men (and women) everywhere who think they have the
    right to determine what is best for you without a whittle of knowledge
    about what the hell they are talking about.

  • Anonymous

    I work with a fair number of Saudi women students who veil. I will now think of each and every one of them as superheroes and I know all their secret identities; I’m pretty sure that means I’m Albert (Albertina?).

  • Herbert West

    Well, Pakistan has had a woman prime minister for a while, too. But then, Pakistan also killed her, so there’s that other side of the coin…

  • Ashe

    ^ This.

  • Ashe

    I think that could be translated as that the burqa would have more social relevance than a skintight cat suit.

    But, that’s just my interpretation.

  • Herbert West

    Except that for a lot of women worldwide, wearing the burqa is not a choice, and this is culturally ingrained in a lot of peoples. Among whom are some women who then want to wear it “by choice” in the more liberal societies they migrate to because, you know, reactance and backfire effect. But hey, just go ask a pakistani woman in burqa if she made the choice herself or if it was because of local customs and religious pressure.

  • Brian

    Oh, so we should just tell them that they only think they’re wearing it by choice, and we know that they’re not actually choosing to wear it at all? Come on, man. I know some do it out of social pressure, but don’t get in the business of telling people their own minds.

  • Herbert West

    How do you know it’s done out of free will when the culture, customs, and religion one grows up in conditions her to think that it is the norm? You can’t just separate the burqa from its cultural and religious background since that is where it finds its source. It is not the product of a secular, open, free society. It’s not born of practicality or utility, it’s not meant to simply protect from the elements.

  • Herbert West

    How do you know it’s done out of free will when the culture, customs, and religion one grows up in conditions her to think that it is the norm? You can’t just separate the burqa from its cultural and religious background since that is where it finds its source. It is not the product of a secular, open, free society. It’s not born of practicality or utility, it’s not meant to simply protect from the elements.

  • Canisa

    Here I thought we were talking about France? I agree that compelling women to wear the Burqa against their will is an awful thing to do, but I really don’t see how forcing women to not wear it against their will is helpful? Can’t we instead just not have restrictions regarding what women can and cannot wear?

    If we want to wear burqas, we should be able to wear burqas, if we want to be naked, we should be able to be naked.

  • K. Johnston

    “How do you know it’s done out of free will when the culture, customs, and religion one grows up in conditions her to think that it is the norm?”

    Because this phenomenon never, ever happens to Westerners. We make all our clothing choices in a vacuum.

    I am free! Free dammit! *wears a crotchless raccoon mascot costume to work*

  • Herbert West

    There are places where you can be naked, they’re called nudist camps.

    There are perfectly valid reasons for not letting everyone go around naked, and they have to do with health, not culture or religion.

  • Herbert West

    Will you be arrested or possibly killed for wearing the wrong type of clothes in most of the western world? Really? You want to go ahead and compare that? Because in some provinces of Pakistan you will have to wear the burqa if you’re a woman. Your opinion doesn’t matter, and neither does your religion. They will expect you to wear it or suffer the consequences.

  • K. Johnston

    I wouldn’t try this line of thought on Western people who HAVE gotten in trouble for wearing the wrong clothes that offend religious sensibilities. I have had people threaten bodily harm on me for wearing a shirt that offends their Christian values.

    Also, I can be arrested for not wearing a top, while no such prohibition exists for topless men.

    Every culture on the damn planet has stupid taboos about dress. It’s stupid to pretend one doesn’t.

  • Sasha Twen

    I understand their need to be pragmatic. If people won’t watch the show because of the skintight costume she wears, the message is moot.

    And I can’t say they don’t have a point. As much as I want to hold up Wonder Woman as a symbol of body positivity and power, fact remains she’s fighting evil in a star-spangled bikini and an impossible strapless top. The whole skintight costume deal is a double-bind you can never quite escape and it’s interesting to see this triangulated from another perspective.

  • Anonymous

    Looks interesting. I’m hoping this gets some degree of traction with its intended audience.

    Maybe I’m being cynical but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any wide release within the US. I still remember people flipping their lids over The 99.

  • Canisa

    Hey, remember the whole “If you didn’t want to get raped, you shouldn’t have worn a miniskirt/bikini etc. etc.” line that comes up so often? So, yeah. Western women actually *are* subjected to violence and harassment on account of wearing clothing that is deemed ‘insufficiently modest’, the only difference between the two cultures is the amount of clothing that is considered enough.

    I’m also curious about these apparent health benefits to wearing clothing outside? Here I thought humans spent millions of years evolving to be naked just fine? It’s not like our boobs are gonna wash off in the rain or something.

  • Charlie

    Not to mention that if you aren’t a size six…well you are too big. http://odewire.com/46323/size-six-the-western-womens-harem.html

  • Herbert West

    Nice ignoratio elenchi though. I was talking about the problems in islamic societies. You talking about similar, albeit to a certain extent only, issues in our western societies, doesn’t really address the problems relating to the existence of the burqa. But whatever.

  • Herbert West

    Again, red herring.

    As for the reason behind humans clothing themselves? Why do you think we started putting the skins of animals on us? For social status only? For fashion? No, clothes protect us from the elements, keep us warm in colder climates, keep us from getting burned under the sun, prevent insect bites, help against getting bruised or scratched in natural environments, offer some protection against animal claws and teeth, etc. You seriously ask that question????

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Talk about missing the point.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Talk about missing the point.

  • aggieagatha

    This is a fantastic idea!

  • RodimusBen

    I wonder if a black superhero who wears slave chains would be well received in the US.

  • Canisa

    Right now the climate is warm, I don’t burn because of my brown skin, there are no dangerous insects to bite me, I very seldom get bruised or scratched and animal claws and teeth are never a problem for me. Yet I must still wear clothes outdoors, even if I don’t want to? Why is this?

  • Herbert West

    As far as the areas covered go, it’s pretty much a reverse Kekko Kamen.

  • Herbert West

    Seeing as you can’t talk about the actual point of the thread, and seeing as you keep using your own little anecdotal “evidence” as proof of anything, I see no reason to keep responding to you. Have fun and be a happy naturist.

  • Herbert West

    While I can appreciate the uniqueness of different cultures and can see why one should be careful not to fall into the trap of ethnocentrism, one should be careful not to end up down the pitfall of moral and cultural relativism either.

  • Anonymous

    The ban actually covers all face coverings, not just burqas. Which I completely support 100%. Is cultural expression more important than being able to identify your attacker?

  • Anonymous

    It’s also absurd to compare the lack of a garment to one that is intended to restrict movement and erase identity. Yes, topless laws are dumb, but so is pretending that the burqa is just a piece of clothing. It isn’t.

  • Anonymous

    Except it would be an incomplete interpretation. Pakistani clothing is overall more modest, even if you don’t wear a burqa.

  • Anonymous

    So people who don’t wear a burqa are not true believers and therefore terrible sinners, right?

  • Ashe

    It is, for sure. The burqa has religious significance too, though. Maybe it’s killing two birds with one stone?

  • Ashe

    You’ve pretty much summed up the ‘to burqa or not to burqa’ debate. Thank you.

  • Canisa

    You said that the reason people are culturally required to wear clothing is that it is good for their health. I pointed out that your reasoning wasn’t relevant to my situation. I fail to see how this is ‘anecdotal “evidence” ‘? Seems to me like it’s just me pointing out that your generalisation is incorrect, and that there must be something more to it.

    Also remember the actual point of the thread is whether women should be forced to wear certain kinds of clothing or not, which is what I’ve been talking about this whole time.

  • Herbert West

    I specifically said that the reasons we as a species started wearing clothes aren’t cultural or religious: “there are perfectly valid reasons for not letting everyone go around naked, and they have to do with health, not culture or religion.”

    You countered a history of people getting dressed for reasons of survival and practicality with:

    “Right now the climate is warm, I don’t burn because of my brown skin, there are no dangerous insects to bite me, I very seldom get bruised or scratched and animal claws and teeth are never a problem for me. Yet I must still wear clothes outdoors, even if I don’t want to? Why is this?”

    This only relates to you, in the now. How is that not purely anecdotal?

  • Herbert West

    I gave both sides, actually.

  • Canisa

    Oh, it appears I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that the reasons we started wearing clothes were still relevant today in all situations and that’s why we have cultural and religious rules that force us to dress a certain way even if it doesn’t make practical sense. If you were only talking about why clothes were invented to begin with then I’ve been a bit silly. Sorry about that.

  • http://www.Facebook.com/AaronVSteimle Aaron Victor Steimle

    It worked well for Luke Cage for a couple of decades. (tee hee)

  • Anonymous

    That is my interpretation too, but they could still have chosen something more emotionally and socially neutral than a burqa. Why not call her “Education Girl” or something, and have her dress up in something that still covers her face and thus identity and is loose fitting, and leaving out the word burqa? Plenty of ways to hide your identity besides a burqa. Or she could be totally bad-ass like Iron Man and give out her home address to the bad guys. ;)

  • Ashe

    What’s wrong with the burqa? I mean, you could technically choose something that functions and appears the same, but it would have a different cultural impact.