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Pakistan's 'Burka Avenger' Cartoon Stirs Controversy

Pakistan's "Burka Avenger" Cartoon Stirs Controversy

The criticism in this case is using a tool of oppression (the face-covering niqab, or burka) as a vehicle for empowerment. Others disagree with this assessment entirely, and see only positive things in this children's cartoon.

via CBS News

(CBS News) The outfit of the world's newest superhero is sparking reaction around the globe. Pakistani television's "Burka Avenger" is a teacher who fights crime, slaying extremists with books.

Her enemies are Taliban-like characters who try to prevent Paksitani girls from getting an education. In each episode the black burka-clad heroine fights against a new evil - from child labor to discrimination and sectarian violence.

The Urdu-language program was created by one of Pakistan's biggest pop stars, Aaron Haroon Rashid, known as Haroon. He came up with the premise for the show three years ago, about the same time that Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani student, began speaking out against the Taliban's attempts to shut down schools. Now 16-years-old, Malala narrowly survived a Taliban attempt to assassinate her in October, 2012.

Much like Malala, Haroon's feisty "Burka Avenger" has a simple message: education trumps violence.
Human rights activist Marvi Sirmed told Brennan she feels the cartoon wrongly glamorizes the burka, which she calls "a tool of oppression."

"[It is] a symbol of submission of women. It cannot be used as a tool of empowerment," Sirmed told Brennan.

But Haroon rejects that argument, and says critics like Sirmed are missing the point.

"Superheroes hide their identity," he said, "In this case, she's a schoolteacher. She goes about her everyday life as a normal person. She doesn't wear a headscarf, she certainly doesn't wear the burka. But she only wears the burka to fight the bad guys, to hide her identity like a super hero would."

Trailer, in english.

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