Burka Avenger, the world’s newest female cartoon superhero, is set to debut on Pakistani television next month, but already the burka-clad character is drawing controversy.
The Pakistani version of Wonder Woman and Super Girl is a teacher who fights for girls’ education, slaying Taliban-like enemies with books.
Unlike the booted and caped superheroes we have come to know, Burka Avenger wears the flowing full-length robe commonly worn by conservative Islamic women in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Critics said the cartoon wrongly glamorizes the burka, which many view as a symbol of oppression.
“It is a symbol of submission of women. It cannot be used as a tool of empowerment,” Marvi Sirmed, a human rights activist, said.
Aaron Haroon Rashid, the creator of Burka Avenger, said the burka was merely a costume and Sirmed was missing the point.
“She wears a burka not because she is oppressed, she wears it because she chooses it to hide her identity the way super heroes do,” said Haroon, one of Pakistan’s biggest pop stars.
Haroon created Burka Avenger about the same time that Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani activist fighting for girls’ education, came to prominence after being shot in the head.
Yousafzai was gunned down by Taliban men in October 2012 for her advocacy but survived and is recuperating.
by Maesie Bertumen
Image: “Burka Avenger” by Imran…/Flickr