Reshma Quereshi is hoping her runway debut at New York Fashion Week brings hope to other acid attack survivors.
Quereshi, 19, suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye after her estranged brother-in-law and two men attacked her with sulfuric acid two years ago at her home in Allahbad, India. She went through several skin graft surgeries, and at one point contemplated suicide, but has since become involved with the Make Love Not Scars group, starring in their online video campaign. The organization provides support for victims of gender-based crimes, and through her video appearances, Quereshi was able to make her first trip to the U.S. for New York Fashion Week. For the FTL Moda show on Thursday, Quereshi donned a white gown with appliqués by Indian designer Archana Kochhar.
Quereshi's goal is to not only inspire confidence in survivors but to also push countries to regulate the sale of such cheap and easy-to-acquire acids as the one used to burn her. The Acid Survivors Trust International says about 1,500 acid attacks are reported every year, but the real number of cases is much higher; a fear of reprisals and belief that the legal system won't help them are preventing victims from filing reports. India has the highest number of recorded attacks, and Quereshi told Reuters that "no one else understands what an acid attack is except the survivors themselves. I do not want this to happen to anyone else."