Reshma Qureshi, India’s 19-year-old acid attack survivor and the face of #EndAcidSale movement, walked the ramp at the New York Fashion Week on Thursday.
Reshma donned an Archana Kochhar floor-length gown as she walked the runway on the first day of the Week and called it a life-changing experience.
Image: Screenshot/Archana Kocchar, Instagram
Invited to take part in the event by FTL Moda, which is known for breaking stereotypes associated with beauty, Reshma’s opening at the Fashion Week coincided with the day a Mumbai Special Court awarded death penalty in an acid attack case. The Mumbai man threw acid on 24-year-old Preethi Rathi in 2013 for rejecting his marriage proposal.
Reshma with Sunny Leone
Reshma knows too well how traumatizing incidents like these can be for the victim and the family. When she was 17, her brother-in-law attacked Reshma and her sister, throwing acid on her face, arms and back and leaving her physically and emotionally scarred for life.
Ever since, the survivor has been campaigning to end acid sale in the country. Reshma also asserts that incidents like these are never the survivor’s fault.
“Why should we not enjoy our lives? What happened to us is not our fault and we've done nothing wrong and so we should also move forward in life,” she told ABC News.
Also promoting the #TakeBeautyBack campaign which encourages diverse models to feel beautiful in their skin, Reshma urged people to not see acid attack survivors like her in a weak light and that they could still go ahead and do their thing.
Reshma has also been associated with the NGO ‘Make Love Not Scars’ and has been the face of many beauty tutorials where she highlights how finding acid is as easy is finding lipsticks and kohl sticks.
“You'll easily find a red lipstick in the market, just like concentrated acid,” she points out in one such video.
Acid attacks are common in India and parts of South-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and are mostly target women and children. About 500-1000 attacks happen in India annually and while they rarely prove to be fatal, they leave the victim disfigured, with physical and psychological scars and stigma that last a lifetime.