New York Fashion Week: Acid attack victim Reshma Qureshi's brave debut

Model and acid attack victim Reshma Qurishi models the Archana Kochhar collection during Fashion Week in New York. Photo / AP
Model and acid attack victim Reshma Qurishi models the Archana Kochhar collection during Fashion Week in New York. Photo / AP

An Indian woman left scarred after being attacked with acid in 2014 has shown tremendous courage in a bid to redefine beauty by opening a New York Fashion Week show.

Reshma Qureshi, 19, has challenged perceptions of beauty by boldly taking to the runway in the FLT Moda show in New York. She wore a long sleeved, white gown with embroidered appliqué by Indian designer Archana Kochhar.

The glitz and glam of fashion week was a world away from Allahabad, India where, aged 17, Qureshi was on her way to an exam with her sister she was attacked with sulphuric acid by her estranged brother-in-law and two men.

She suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye.

Qureshi opened the show wearing an embroidered white gown. Photo / AP
Qureshi opened the show wearing an embroidered white gown. Photo / AP

Aided by a translator, Qureshi told the Daily Mail: "This walk was important to me because there are so many girls like me who are survivors of acid attacks and this will give them courage."

After undergoing numerous skin graft surgeries and even contemplating suicide, she met the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes.

Qureshi is the face of the group's online video campaign, which has been viewed by 1.3 million people and gave her the opportunity to appear in New York.

She said "It will also go to show people who judge people based on their appearance that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover - you should look at everyone through the same eyes."

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that something like this would happen to me - that I would be coming to such a big place to walk on such a big stage."

The fashion show is part of a campaign #IAmNYFW which hopes to increase diversity within fashion.

Qurishi is the face of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes. Photo / AP
Qurishi is the face of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes. Photo / AP

Qureshi said she hopes her walk on the catwalk will both inspire hope in others who have survived acid attacks and encourage other countries to draw attention to the "devastating" impact of acid attacks.

She said "No one else understands what an acid attack is except the survivors themselves. I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

Ilaria Niccolini is the founder of FLT Moda, the production company behind the show. She said "I think this is a powerful tool."

"I think it can make a change for the better."

Roughly 1,500 acid attacks are reported each year. However the number of actual attacks is said to be much higher with India topping the list of recorded attacks, which are often a form of revenge by jilted husbands or rejected suitors.

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