"Burka Avenger," a new animated kids' show set to debut in Pakistan, has a classic theme of an unassuming individual donning a costume to fight crime and injustice. "Burka Avenger," referencing the traditional garment worn by Muslim women in public, also serves as a mirror on reality, and the show’s subject matter is meant to educate as much as entertain.
The Associated Press reports that “Burka Avenger” reflects the reality of girls living in Pakistan trying to go to school and gain an education. The show would seem to be based on Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old activist whom the Taliban tried to kill because of her writings about their ban of girls’education and destruction of hundreds of girls’public schools in northwestern Pakistan, obviously parallelling the threats the Burka Avenger faces on the television show.
“Burka Avenger” centers on Jiya, a quiet schoolteacher who wears a burka to hide her identity as she fights crime. Jiya was adopted by Kabaddi Jan, who taught her a fighting style called Takht Kabaddi which uses pens and books as weapons. According to the show’s website, “The main goals of the 'Burka Avenger' TV series are to make people laugh, to entertain and to send out strong social messages to the youth that educate, enlighten and reinforce positive social behavior.” The series also involves the corrupt mayor, Vadeo Pajero, and AP reports the Burka Avenger squares off against criminals trying to shut down the girls’ school where she, as Jiya, works as a teacher.
Show creator Aaron Haroon Rashid, known as Haroon, is a huge pop star in Pakistan, as an educational vehicle. Rashid wanted to promote girls’ education and their right to attend public schools while also teaching children about other social issues, such as taking care of the environment or discriminating against others, reports AP.
AP notes that some could view the burka, a traditional robe worn by conservative Muslim women that covers every part of their body except for their eyes, as oppressive, but Rashid describes Jiya’s usage of a burka as noncontroversial and ties it to the culture of Pakistan. “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,” said Rashid.
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In addition to Jiya, three young kids, twins Immu and Ashu and their best friend Mooli, serve as the show’s other stars. Each of the 13 episodes contains original music by Rashid as well as other popular Pakistani singers including Ali Zafar, Ali Azmat and Josh. The animated series is produced entirely in Pakistan will air on Geo TV beginning in August, notes AP.