What do you get when a Pakistani pop star creates a superhero series designed to empower girls and women? None other than Burka Avenger! She is the brain child of Haroon who created the veiled superhero to get the message out that girls should be allowed to go to school. The heroine, Jiya, is publicly a school teacher, but when fighting the men that close the girls’ school and corrupt politicians, she is the Burka Avenger.
Burka Avenger is both entertaining and subversive. It’s cartoon format (in Urdu) is certainly geared toward children, but the musical interludes by some of Pakistan and South Asia’s biggest pop stars are likely to appeal to an older crowd. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Burka Avenger is accompanied by a suite of app games. Burka Madness asks the question “Ever wondered what you would look like in a burka?” and allows users to upload photos of themselves (and presumably others) and “try on” different burkas. The Burka Avenger app should be out shortly.
The subversive part of the show is that the burka, which has become a tool for the oppression of women, has been reclaimed as a clever disguise for a superhero with ninja-like abilities. The Burka Avenger also uses books and pens as weapons, literally throwing them at the “bad guys”… although one hopes that in future episodes the knowledge contained in these tools will be used to protect our hero.