Superheroes come in all shapes and forms, the one key defining trait being their secret identity. With this in mind, it makes sense that Pakistani-based cartoon, “The Burka Avenger” uses a cultural reference to create a female superhero. The Burka Avenger is a 13-part cartoon series, which launched in August 2013 in Pakistan. Jiya, the heroine, is a schoolteacher who fights crime in her spare time, as all superheroes seem to do.
However, her secret identity is culturally informed. Jiya works in a Pakistani school by day, teaching middle schoolers. By night, she dons a burka and takes to the street to fight, teacher style, with pens and books using a martial art called “Takht Kabbadi.”
The Burka is part of her disguise, and it conceals her identity to enable her to do good, rather than the traditional idea that it means to “dress modestly.”
The show's creator, musician Aaron Haroon Rashid, said in a press release, “The Burka Avenger’s outfit turns stereotypes on their heads. She is taking that symbol of oppression, subverting it and turning it against the oppressors as a tool to defeat them.”
Whether or not you agree with that, anything that encourages thoughtful discussion around such a loaded subject can only be a good thing.