LAHORE, Pakistan – “Don’t mess with the lady in black, when she’s on the attack!” This is the theme song for Jiya, Pakistan’s first female super-hero, Burka Avenger.
The cartoon hero Jiya is a simple school teacher who lost her parents at an early age and was brought up by a kabbadi master, who teaches her a new form of fighting, “Takht Kabbadi” which uses books and pens as weapons to fight off villains, along with a handful of karate skills.
Whenever there is evil around, Jiya puts on a burka to hide her identity and uses her fighting skills to defeat evil.
The show promotes righteous values and education among girls and discourages discrimination. Burka Avenger targets social problems such as education and discrimination in a way that children can understand without any harm done.
The show is set in a fictional town of “Halwapur” and stars three kids: Immu, Ashu, and Mooli, who are eager to learn and acquire education. Meanwhile, a corrupt politician, “Vadero Pajero,” and an evil magician “Baba Bandooq,” try to close down the girls’ school in order to acquire money and power in their immoral ways.
The moment that the freedom of the citizens is threatened, Burka Avenger appears to protect the safety of the children and to assure female education in the area.
The animated show, created by Pakistan’s famous pop star Aaron Haroon Rashid, features music tracks of Pakistan’s leading pop stars such as Ali Azmat, Adil Omar and Ali Zafar.
The animations were made with high power graphics and are said to be the first of its kind in Pakistan. “Burka Avenger” is a family show, but is chiefly aimed at children. It would be fair to say that it is enjoyed by all ages.
Many other female superheroes such as Wonder Woman and Black Widow already exist, but the reason Burka Avenger is different and even more amazing is that she was desperately needed by young Pakistani girls.
This show is based on the issues that girls here actually face and is set in their own environment. There are real world villains such as the corrupt politicians and the terrorists who believe that women have no right to education.
Best of all, this superhero fights righteously using education, books and pens and remains modest at the same time. Only her adoptive father knows about her secret – he’s the one who taught her.
Some people have expressed concerns about the Burka Avenger wearing a burka, as many see it as a sign of oppression. But the sole reason Jiya wears a burka is to hide her identity like any superhero would.
Moreover, the burka is not viewed as a sign of oppression by Pakistanis, who are the show’s audience.
Overall, Burka Avenger has had a positive response not only from Pakistan but also from all around the world, and not only because of the awesome story line.
There is something else that can’t be ignored.
Jiya represents a strong woman who never lets the society chose for her. She fights for women’s rights and is an inspiration for young Pakistani girls. She passes on the powerful message of staying brave, strong and moving forward.
Undoubtedly, that is what Pakistan needs right now.
Arooj Khalid is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International.