Accompanied by her sister Gulshan, Reshma Qureshi was on her way to sit for her secondary school class examination in Uttar Pradesh when her brother-in-law and two other men approached the two in what appeared to be an attack. As Qureshi tried to defend her sister, the attackers reacted and poured acid on her face leaving her not only in pain, but also with the knowledge that she would be disfigured for life.
According to Qureshi, she and her sister asked people for help after the attack, but no one helped them. It wasn’t until she returned to Mumbai that she was able to receive the treatment she needed at the time.
In a society and culture where a strong emphasis is placed on looks as part of what a woman represents, Qureshi has plenty to mull over. But instead, the brave beauty will be traveling to the United States for the first time, where she walk the runway at New York Fashion Week in September. She will be walking for FTL Moda, one of the most critically acclaimed producers of New York Fashion Week and a motivational brand that made history last year when they featured the first ever male amputee, British personal trainer Jack Eyers, to walk the runway.
Qureshi is also involved with the non-government organization, Make Love Not Scars, whose mission is to provide acid attack victims an opportunity to regain their life on their own terms through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration. In a region of the world where there are an estimated 1,000 acid attacks or more a year, Qureshi’s voice along with those of others who represent Make Love Not Scars’s mission and help raise global awareness of this problem. According to data reported by the Acid Survivors Foundation, there were a total of 349 reported incidents of acid attacks in 2014, compared to 106 cases in 2012. The data is only as recent as a few years ago, because up until 2013, national criminal law and policy did not recognize acid violence as an offence.
The lady who learned to live with the physical pain and the negative reaction of society is venturing out and sharing her story on a global stage, representing hundreds of women, seen and unseen, who suffer this crime against women every year.
“It has been a journey of discovery that led us to Make Love Not Scars, the most recognized entity supporting survivors of acid attacks in India,” Ilaria Niccolini, producer of FTL Moda said in a statement. “We want to give voice to these amazing women, who have been silently suffering, hiding, and too often depriving themselves of the opportunity to declare how beastly, and cruelly they have been attacked.”
The Voix is a creative platform that empowers the voices of global storytellers. For more information, visit: Thevoix.com.