Reshma Quereshi: A Powerful Advocate of New York Fashion Week

Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi presents a creation from Indian designer Archana Kochhar's Spring/Summer 2017 collection during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 8, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Reshma Bano Qureshi, a teenager from India, walked for a cause this year at New York Fashion Week. Qureshi looked gorgeous as she walked in FTL Moda’s shows: Kochhar and Vaishali Couture. The new model was invited to walk in the shows a few months ago, and her reaction is captured in a heart-warming video. Reshma’s travels to the United States mark the first time she has ever left her home country of India.

Reshma walked to end the accessible sale of acid in India. As the face of the charitable organization Make Love Not Scars, this cause is very close to Reshma’s heart.

Reshma survived an acid attack by her brother-in-law in 2014, when he mistook her for her older sister (his wife). Despite the hardships that followed, she persevered, and became a recognizable advocate and an international change maker.

As an ambassador for Make Love Not Scars, Reshma advocates for removing acid from the market and making it more difficult to acquire. Last year, her red lipstick advertisement went viral, making the point that red lipstick and acid are both easily accessible to consumers.

Unfortunately, acid attacks are common in India, and are often used as a form of abuse between spouses. According to statistics from Make Love Not Scars, 1000 Indian women are attacked with acid every year. These attacks are often the results of family disputes, perceived shame, or rejection. The vast majority of victims are girls under the age of 18 years old, and most perpetrators or male family members, spouses, or attempted suiters.

The work Reshma, Make Love Not Scars, and other advocates are doing is crucial in Bangladesh and India- where rates of attacks have increased sharply in the last few years. Though efforts have been made to regulate and track the sale of acid, they have so far been ineffective in curbing this epidemic.

Governments facing this epidemic must do more to curb the accessibility of acid and provide treatment to victims. Reshma’s advocacy has done a tremendous amount to shine a light on this issue, and put pressure on officials in power to do more.

Reshma has been inspiring individuals and governments all over the world, and we were so excited to see her walk for a cause in New York this fall!

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