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Girl Under Cover

Pakistan’s burqa-clad animation superwoman kicks up a controversy

Girl Under Cover AFP (From Outlook 12 August 2013)

She is a caped superwoman, kicking some serious ass, but her style is Pakistani. Burka Avenger, a black nail-polished cartoon superhero clad in a burqa, who fights evil—yes, especially those ranged against female empowerment and education—by means of airborne martial arts, and uses books and pens as weapons, has hit television screens. She’s a heroine who is “lean, mean, covered from her head to her toes, with her eyes visible so she can give you the look, And lay the smack down on all these dirty killers and crooks”, says the accompanying theme song by pop singer Aaron Haroon Rashid, whose brainchild   the animation series is.

‘Jiya’ is a kind, albeit ordinary schoolteacher by day, but as darkness falls she dons a black burqa and takes on the village baddies who frown at female education with her bagful of tomes and acrobatic tricks. Fighting her is Talib­an­­esque villain Baba Bandook and cor­­rupt mayor Vadero-Pajero. Helping her are her adorable students Ashu, Immu, their best friend Mooli and his cute goat Gohu. Inspired by Malala Yous­ufzai, as girls’ education in confl­ict-ridden, conservative nations beco­mes a global cause celebre, it seems Burka Avenger has imitated life. Or has it?

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