‘Burka’ spins another tale

The ‘Burka’ is known for its controversial spin pertaining to every thread of its existence, specifically in the last decade. From being the ultimate garment of female oppression, to being the ultimate symbol of piety; this cloak has a new tale to tell each time

Burka is notorious for its widespread use in being the ultimate disguise. No wonder the government of France suffers from delusions of Burka clad terrorists invading their country. Its application is interestingly varied; from a low-budgeted Pakistani horror flick – Zibahkhana, where the scary antagonist dons a gruesome burka; to a real life desperate lover who uses the concealment to meet his girlfriend in a girls hostel; and wait, it gets even better! I recently read about an under-age teen who bought liquor in Toronto last year, dressed in a Burka, and almost got away with it.

Amid this mockery of an otherwise benign attire, comes a refreshing new addition. The `Burka Avenger`; Pakistan`s first woman super hero! For someone who loves the entire superhero shebang, all oodles of curiosity were kindled the minute I laid eyes on those big, brown eyes courageously peeping through her shadowy attire. A brilliant concept on many levels. Firstly, tackling a recent and important issue on girls education in Pakistan, following the Malala incident. Secondly, using the Burka as a disguise in a country where it is still a mark of respect and acceptance, no matter how much ridicule it may disperse globally. This may be the most viable use of the poor garb just yet. Lastly, using a Pakistani woman as a superhero to impart the importance of education over a widespread ignorant and misogynistic society is ironic yet perfect on all accounts.

At the risk of sounding like an over worried mother, I can almost feel my blood boiling at the criticism this cartoon may invoke. I sincerely hope that my worries are uncalled-for. Yet, it is not hard to imagine our country’s religious zealots tightening their turbans and pulling up their shalwars, all set to violently denounce the avenger’s blasphemous black nail colour. Maybe if they actually read Islamic history, they would discover brave and heroic women like Khawla Bint Al Zawar who courageously fought battles in Syria, Jordan and Palestine. In the battle of Ajnadin, not far from Jerusalem, her brother was taken prisoner. She brilliantly disguised herself as a male knight and rode to her brother’s rescue aided by her expert swordsmanship skills.

Then there were more; the ever persistent Women rights activists or habitual feminists trotting our globe like wolves sniffing their next wretched prey. I am by no means a proponent of this cultural/religious garb and I am all for freedom of women. But please don’t always associate the idea of the burka with increased oppression on the female kind. It is after all just a piece of clothing, as is the two-piece. My advice to them is to dig deep on western super-hero comics before banking on superficial facets of the avenger’s choice of guise.  Burka Avenger is not alone in her selection. Dust (a.k.a. Sooraya Qadir), a fictional character in the famous X-men marvel comics is a powerful counterpart who has the power to transform her body into malleable clouds of dust. She is originally from Afghanistan and proudly uses a Burka as her normal attire.

In an attempt to spread appreciation for the occasional good that comes out of Pakistan, I humbly request people to enjoy this cartoon animation for what it simply is: a creative and meaningful entertainment for the whole family. Carping criticism is just not that fashionable anymore. If nothing else, I am sure ‘Burka Avenger’ will make numerous children all over the country happy; and perhaps even give them reasons to dream and hope for a masked crusader, who not only saves the day, but is also from their beloved land.


  1. Zara Saeed · July 26, 2013

    Burka is definately not an attire of female opression.Iran is one country where women are given ultimate freedom to excel in all walks of life and their attire (Abaya) is not a symbol of supression but a sign of dignity and chastity! On the contrary, ‘nakab’ or a veil creates menace as it gives room to terrorists to disguise their identity.
    Such a excellent piece of writing Nida! really enjoyed reading it:)
    Anxiously waiting for ‘Burka Avenger’ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • NS · July 26, 2013

      Thank you for the read Zara! Oh and I can’t wait too!!!


    • A writer from the East · July 19, 2014

      Hopefully one day western world and western feminism and western experts on gender and women emancipation will finally get that Burka is not a sign of oppression.
      Great piece and yes I agree that nijab is a menace created to hide identities for sinister purposes as we all are aware of, talking of Pakistani reality at least!


      • Nida S. · July 19, 2014

        I hope so too. Some Western countries are pretty open to it. So there’s hope. Thankyou for dropping by.


  2. Tony Butt · July 27, 2013

    ‘Burqa’ or ‘hijab’ are not Quranic terms; both are social customs adopted by Muslim culture and not part of Quranic teachings or commandments. Our holy Book mentions modesty & does not describe these funny-wears. As you go through the verses of Quran in this regard, you only see two words ‘Jilbab’ & ‘Khimar’ that can represent ‘Chaadar’ or ‘Dopatta’ by no means showing you pictures of these Cartoon clad species.
    Demeanour and deeds denote dignity, not a piece of fabric. The religion of Islam focuses on spirit rather than on form. It lays emphasis on pious thinking and value-based character. According to Islam, true Muslims purify themselves in terms
    of ethics.


  3. Tony Butt · July 27, 2013

    Nicely written article on a controversial subject.


    • NS · July 28, 2013

      Thank you reading:)


  4. amna · July 29, 2013

    When I first heard of this cartoon,I had the same feeling about how some factions of society might react to it but then a new idea always attracts that kind of criticism nevertheless it would certainly improve the image of the “burqa” in way or the other eventually.


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