‘Pakistan Girl’ out to battle graft and violence

ISLAMABAD • Pakistan’s newest female superhero has vowed to battle corrupt officials and protect battered women, as her creator tries to inspire the next generation to fight against injustice in a deeply patriarchal society.

The new Pakistan Girl comic series is based on Sarah, a normal teenager with a pet cat who discovers she has superhuman powers after waking from a coma caused by a blast in her village.

Donning a green cape, Pakistan’s national colour, the protagonist whips a man beating a woman in a market and saves a young girl taken hostage by a bribe-seeking police officer in the series’ first comic book released this summer.

The creator of the English-language comic says he hopes the superhero will give young girls across Pakistan a role model and embolden them to fight corruption and violence in a country where crime is rife in major cities and corruption is the norm.

“There’s a huge shortage of female role models and superheroes in the mainstream media here,” said author Hassan Siddiqui.

“We wanted to create a strong female character for the girls in Pakistan and even the young boys in Pakistan that they can look up to.”

Women in conservative Pakistan have fought for their rights for decades, in a country where “honour killings” and violence against women are common.

Netizens have welcomed the comic, writing largely positive reviews online and calling for more superhero stories in the future.

“It’s a very brilliant step by you guys… I’m a big fan of Marvel and DC comics and looking forward to this too,” wrote fan Syed Hassan Nasir on Facebook.

The author said he now plans to work on an Urdu version of the comic with the aim of reaching millions of readers across the country.

He is also mulling a possible animation adaption, although reaching the masses will not be easy.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2017, with the headline ”Pakistan Girl’ out to battle graft and violence’.