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Don’t Mess With the Lady in Black

Olivia Samerdyke, Editor-in-Chief

The mysterious lady in black figures into many genres, and always means trouble.  She knows what she wants, and never considers failure.  She rarely wants something noble, such as education for the young girls in her country.  But recently Pakistan released its first 3D-animated cartoon featuring a super heroine who uses her powers to fight corruption and to make sure girls get a good education.  She is the Burka Avenger.

Mild-mannered teacher by day, champion for justice whenever needed.

Mild-mannered teacher by day, champion for justice whenever needed.

An uncovered, Sharif Muslim elementary teacher, Jiya, by day, the heroine only dons her black burka to protect her identity when she assumes her super-identity.  Her only weapons are used by teachers everywhere, and are both loved and feared by those familiar with them.  She uses books and pens, both mightier than the sword, against her enemies.

Pakistani pop star, Haroon, created the show, which was two years in the works when the young activist, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban last October.  Although he had never heard of her until that event, he admires her courage, and called her a “real life superhero.”

“It was like life was imitating what was on our screen while we were developing,” he told the AFP in an interview.

Although so far the show has enjoyed success, some skeptics wonder if the Burka is right for a super heroine, fighting for women’s rights.  Haroon and the other Burka Avenger creators responded to that question by pointing out that Jiya only wears the burka when she chooses, not because she is told to.  In addition to letting her fly, it also protects her identity, leaving only her eyes and fingers visible, very much unlike most western super heroines.

The artistic director, Yousaf Ejaz , also responded to the question and reminisced about his grandmother, who wore one.

“I used to put it on and act like I was Batman,” he laughed.  “So there was, like, one of the inspirations.”

Since more than half of Pakistani girls do not go to school, Jiya the Burka Avenger has a lot of work ahead.  Perhaps as the show gains more success, she will become an inspiration to girls, and those in decision-making positions, to change those numbers.

See the Lady in Black in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pdbshf4iPE.

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