Watch out, polio! After taking aim at the Taliban, Pakistan’s first animated female superhero, the “Burka Avenger,” is lending her powers to fight her country’s worsening polio crisis. More than 85 percent of all polio cases this year were recorded in Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization, and the Taliban have targeted vaccination teams for attack. The “Burka Avenger” cartoon – featuring Jiya, a mild-mannered school teacher by day who whips out martial-arts skills as her alter ego by night – was launched last year to fight for girls’ education amid Taliban efforts to shut down girls’ schools. Now, her animators have turned their attention – and their character’s efforts – to polio.
“We always have a social issue or a social message that is the centerpiece of each show,” said the show’s creator, Aaron Haroon Rashid. “And of course, with the rising number of polio cases…the situation is alarming.” Pakistan Army Officer Arkum Aslam is among those who think the show is having a positive effect. “I think they brought a very serious subject to everyone’s attention, especially kids,” he told Reuters. “And they brought it to their attention in a very fun way.”
– Alexander Smith
Reuters contributed to this report.