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Girls & Women

Acid Attack Survivor to Walk at New York Fashion Week

Reshma Quereshi is missing an eye and her face is covered in scars. Two years ago, amid a family dispute, she was pinned down by her brother-in-law and his friends, and concentrated sulphuric acid was poured over her face. The scars run down her neck and arms.

In September, she will be walking down a runway at New York City’s Fashion Week. Reshma is not only a survivor, but she has become an advocate for women who have suffered similarly gruesome attacks.

Read More: From Acid Attack to Fashion Week: How One Victim Is Fighting Back

Reshma works with the group Make Love Not Scars to raise awareness of acid attacks, 1,500 of which are reported annually, according to the BBC. Up to 80% of acid attack victims are women, and often occur after women reject marriage proposals or sexual advances, or as retribution during land disputes, domestic quarrels, and dowry demands.

“An acid attack is the easiest and most brutal crime to commit, it only requires the swish of a hand to pour the corrosive and deadly liquid on the victim, it ensures that the victim is not only permanently disfigured physically but mentally as well,” Ria Sharma, Make Love Not Scars’ founder told Global Citizen.

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Reshma, like many other attack survivors, became withdrawn after her attack. She felt ostracized because of the way she looked. She was only able to afford surgeries that only minimally altered her appearance.

But Reshma, who was in college at the time, had a revelation. She saw that inner beauty matters more than outer beauty, and that her life wasn’t over. Reshma wanted her experience to count for something, and so she started advocating for a ban on the sale of acid in India.

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She also started working with Make Love, Not Scars to create videos to help inspire other acid attack victims. She has a series of beauty tips on YouTube, like how to apply eyeliner and how to get perfect red lips. At the end of each video she also advocates against the sale of acid.

And now, she will be walking in New York’s famed Fashion Week. Reshma was recruited by FTL MODA, an agency that organizes shows for twice-annual fashion event, and Make Love, Not Scars recorded the moment she was told she’d be going to NYC. This will be her first time leaving India.

Watch the video below to see her emotional, poignant reaction.

Garima Bakshi contributed to this report.