With the Taliban war against female education dramatically escalating, more than 1,000 girls’ schools and colleges in Pakistan have been forcibly closed, leaving thousands of girls denied sufficient education simply due to their gender. Female school buses, carrying bright fruitful individuals with a longing for education, are being targeted by militant forces, rendering many females afraid to even make they’re daily venture to the promising school grounds.
However, female subservience and compliance with the Taliban may be well on its way out, with the introduction of a strong female protagonist. ‘The Burka Avenger’, created by local Pakistani celebrity Haroon Rashid, is a cartoon character that addresses the prominent issue of every female’s right to education.
The humorous cartoon, targeted at a youthful audience, depicts a well mannered school teacher, who by day, teaches at a local female school, but by night, becomes a cloaked vigilante, challenging all those who deny education to her fellow female counterparts.
It is of no doubt that these efforts are in response to recent events regarding 15 year old Pakistani educational activist, Malala Yousufzai. In which, the Taliban, enraged by her ability to speak out about the educational crisis within her country, and her open defamation of the Taliban’s ban against girls in school, open fired at her in efforts to silence her ever resonating voice. However, The highly publicised case and the media frenzy which ensued seemed only to create more awareness for Malalal’s cause. Instead of silencing the 15-year-old, the attack only made her voice more prominent.
The masked avenger, sheathed in a traditional Burka outfit, differs somewhat to the archetypal female superheroes we encounter within Western fiction. Despite possessing infinite strength, Wonder Woman, is often revered for her revealing outfit, accentuating her female assets, as apposed to her exceptional skills. However, The Burka Avenger symbolises liberation from female objectification, with her loose fitting outfit and superior martial-art combat skills, Thus representing a resounding sense of female empowerment, as apposed to appealing to a predominantly male audience.
Haroon Rashid, co-creator of the Burka Avenger, states that ‘Each one of our episodes is centred around a moral, which sends out strong social messages to kids,” Mr Rashid told the Associated Press in his first interview about the show. “But it is cloaked in pure entertainment, laughter, action and adventure.” The Cartoon is said to be laden with other strong politically inclined messages such as protecting the environment and accepting others without discriminating, a particularly poignant message for a country in which militants continuously attack religious minorities.
It is apparent that Pakistan, somewhat resembling a proverbial barren wasteland of educational potential, is in a transitional state, the ball is truly rolling to educate their citizens to a better understanding. With the help of now prominent media figure Malala, her resounding voice is being used to educate the rest of the world to the plight that young females are facing daily. Perhaps this influx of media interest may change the political imbalance which is prevalent within Pakistan, just like it states in a prominent quote from the Burka Avenger ‘The girls of today are tomorrows mothers, if the mothers are not educated, the children of the future will too be illiterate’