‘Burka Avenger’

Bina Shah is a Pakistani feminist writer. She expressed her opinions on Burka Avenger. Burka Avenger is a new TV cartoon series for children. The main character of Burka Avenger is a woman, mild-mannered schoolteacher by day, superhero by night, who wears a burka in order to fight villains in her village. The villains try to shut down the girls’ schools. Let’s read what Bina Shah wrote:

‘I’m especially pleased that the superhero is a woman, not a man. Pakistani society is hypermasculinized: children are used to seeing men in positions of power and authority, as leaders, military men, policemen, et cetera. They absorb this as the natural order of things from such early ages that it’s almost impossible to undo this conditioning later in life. Whereas the women of Pakistan are the silent heroes on the frontlines of the war we’ve got ourselves involved in today: schoolteachers, health workers and human rights activists are targeted by extremists and attacked and killed for going out and doing their ordinary jobs. It’s wonderful to see a woman being feted for something so true to life, and also to see that when her job is threatened, she doesn’t succumb to the aggression but instead fights back and triumphs. The children of Pakistan need this lesson as well.’

‘The superhero’s costume is such an integral part of his or her identity that it’s hard to escape from the question of whether or not the burka is an appropriate choice for Pakistan’s first female superhero. Yes, the burka is oppressive… the burka provides women with a modicum of agency. Women who would be confined to their houses are allowed to go out if they are wearing a burka.

I wish it weren’t so, but it is. Should we perpetuate the idea that women are strong when they put on the burka? Definitely not. Pakistani girls and women need to know that their natural state of being is not hidden away, shrouded by yards of black cloth to make their presence in society acceptable, safe, or halal. They need to learn that modesty can be interpreted in many different ways, and that a simple shalwar kameez and dupatta are good enough for us, because we’re Pakistanis, not Arabs. It will horrify me if little girls start wearing burkas in imitation of their hero, because that would be indoctrination of the worst kind.

My perfect ending to the Burka Avenger series would be that after the villains are vanquished, Jiya hangs up her burka in the closet and never needs to wear it again.’

But the question is why should Jiya, the superhero, hang up her burka in the closet if she never needs to wear it? Isn’t it better if she just throw the burka in the garbage?


  1. Jason Failes says

    I love the way it plays into the masking-anonymity of traditional superheroes.

    Wasn’t there an incident like this last year, where a patriarchal busybody was harassing a woman in a burka for showing a little ankle? He grabbed her, she beat him up, then disappeared into a crowd of burkas.

    So some inspiration there: The forces of mysogynistic religious garbage may come to regret oppressing a group of people and dressing them like ninjas.

  2. keresthanatos says

    This is too cool for words. I have always thought that the annominity provided by the burka would be a wonderful way to infiltrate and destroy many different types of opressive organizations the world over. I hope this has a bunch of hard core mullahs staying awake at night filling their pants with sh*yt.

  3. says

    While it’s refreshing to see a female hero coming from Pakistan, it’s still a huge irony to see her donning the burka, which is the very sign of oppression. I guess if women were seen in higher regard in Pakistan, she would be able to fight crime in a bikini like some western superheroes like Wonder Woman?

  4. Not You says

    If the Fight against burkha… Is the fight for wearing bikini, Or more less cloths, It will be a very strange thing…
    Becoz fashion-cloths doesnt only mean to wear lesser clothes. Moreover it should be keep in mind that East is East… & we all know that the sun rises in the east. It is a reminder not for only pakistan people but for all eastern people…

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