FTL Moda Leading Inclusion in the Fashion Industry
During the most recent New York Fashion Week, Reshma Qureshi, an 18 year-old acid attack survivor, walked the FTL Moda runway wearing a multicolored gown inspired by Qureshi and the designer's Indian heritage. Indian designer Archana Kochar specifically made the dress for Qureshi and it was almost identical to a dress worn by Bollywood Actress Sunny Leone, who walked the runway with Qureshi on September 8.
"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," Qureshi told Associated Press via a translator, hen asked how the show went.
Growing up in India, going to college was Qureshi's most exciting prospect. She was more than ready to take her final exams when she turned 17. But Qureshi could not attend as she planned.
On May 19, 2014 her brother-in-law threw concentrated sulfuric acid at her for refusing sexual advances. Qureshi lost her left eye completely and her right became partially infected. She lost function in most of her face and needed surgery to remove the muscle contractures around her mouth.
With no help from the government to cover the cost of her surgeries, Qureshi reached out to Make Love Not Scars, a non-profit focused on assisting acid attack victims. Through this organization Qureshi found a new confidence.
According to an interview with the Associated Press, Qureshi wants “to show people who judge [others] based on their appearance that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover — you should look at everyone though the same eyes.”
Ilaria Niccolini, CEO of FTL Moda, contacted Make Love Not Scars and invited Qureshi to walk in the NYFW show.
“I wanted to invite Qureshi because every year, thousands of girls suffer from acid attacks in developing countries. The statistics show a scary increase every six months. I was deeply touched by these stats, especially considering that 70% of these girls and women are the age of my older daughter, she is only 19,” Niccolini said.
In 2014, 309 acid attack cases were reported in India; 85 percent of these attacks occurred on women and 70 percent of those women attacked were under 18 years old. The attacks can occur for refusing a marriage proposal or sexual advances, standing up to harassment, going to school or getting a job. Until 2013, acid attacks were not classified as separate offenses and were grouped in with other grievous assault cases, leading to a lack of desire from acid attack survivors to report the incidents.
Women lose not only their physical features, such as eye and facial functions, but also their confidence and ability to live a full, regular life. This is the reality for many women living in India, Bangladesh and other Middle Eastern countries.
Since the show in early September, Qureshi's story reached millions of people all over the world. Her positive influence is show fruit already -- not only in the fashion industry in New York but all over the world.