An Indian teenager who lost an eye and whose face was brutally disfigured in an acid attack walked the New York catwalk to whoops and cheers Thursday in what she called a life-changing experience. Reshma Qureshi, 19, brushed off nerves to stride the runway like a pro in a stunning cream and floral floor-length gown by Indian designer Archana Kochhar on the first official day of New York Fashion Week.
Reshma Qureshi : Indian acid attack survivor shared her happiness
“I feel really good and the experience was great,” she told AFP afterward, speaking in Hindi through a translator. “I feel as though it has definitely changed my life.”
She was invited to take part by FTL Moda, a fashion production company committed to challenging industry stereotypes of beauty and which last year invited a model with Down syndrome to take part.
Qureshi, whose ambition remains to finish the last two grades of high school and go to college, said she hoped her participation would send a powerful message to other acid attack survivors.
“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 AFP the night before the show.
Acid attacks, which overwhelmingly target women and children, are a particular scourge in Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and the Middle East.
In India, an estimated 500 to 1,000 attacks take place each year, and while they rarely kill they leave severe physical, psychological and social scars that can see victims ostracized and hidden away.Thursday’s show came the same day an Indian court sentenced a man to death for murdering a 24-year-old woman by throwing acid on her face after she rejected his offer of marriage, in a landmark judgement.Since Qureshi was attacked by her brother-in-law in 2004, pinned down by his friends and her face doused in acid, she has become the face of a campaign to end the open sale of acid in India.