Pakistan now has its own caped crusader, but under the cape is a burqa. Hmm.
Pakistan’s first caped crusader is a burka-clad superhero who fights school-hating baddies by night and moonlights as a gentle, compassionate schoolteacher by day.
Burka Avenger has yet to launch on TV, but she is creating quite an impression in a country where female literacy is estimated at a grim 12% and the Taliban are continuing a campaign which has seen hundreds of girls’ schools blown up in the north-west.
That sounds quite good, in a way. But…a burqa?
“This is such an interesting way to reinforce positive social messages for kids,” Mr Rashid told the BBC. “The Burka Avenger is a great role model. We lack those in Pakistan.”
Many real life women’s rights crusaders in Pakistan might not agree. The use of the burka, the full cloth head-to-toe veil that is often worn by women in the north-west and tribal areas of Pakistan, is controversial in a country which has been reeling from the effects of religious extremism over the past decade.
Marvi Sirmed, an Islamabad-based journalist and human rights activist, thinks that it is not right to build a resistance figure out of a woman wearing a garment that has been strongly associated by some with the suppression of women.
“It is subversive and it says that you can only get power when you don a symbol of oppression,” says Ms Sirmed.
“It is demeaning to those brave women in the conservative parts of Pakistan who have been fighting for women’s rights, education and justice, and who have said ‘no’ to this kind of stereotype.”
In one way, yes, but in another way, it’s more like subverting the burqa.
Taha Iqbal, the head of animations for Burka Avenger, thinks that everyone should just wait for the series to come out.
He says like any other superhero, Burka Avenger has a back-story too and her reasons for wearing the burka have nothing to do with subservience.
“Besides she has to kick ass,” he says. “Tight leather pants are hardly practical for that purpose.”
No, but dude, neither is a giant bag over your body and a smaller bag over your head. Those aren’t practical for kicking ass either.