When 19-year-old acid attack survivor Reshma Bano was told that she had been invited by fashion production firm FTL Moda to walk the runway at the New York Fashion Week in September, the teenage girl who has never traveled outside of Mumbai could not hold back her tears.
Banu’s face was scarred, and she lost her left eye when she was violently attacked with acid by her estranged brother-in-law when she jumped in to rescue her sister from him.
“I am both ecstatic and nervous. I had never in my wildest dreams thought of going abroad let alone walking at a major fashion show. I am yet to sink in the feeling,” Banu, who was left depressed and suicidal from the attack two years ago, told Daily Mail. “I do not know about the brand. I do not know what I am going to wear or how I will walk. I am not prepared for all that. I am just happy to have been invited for a big event like this and show the world that beauty lies in the soul and not in looks.”
Bano, who does beauty tutorials on YouTube to raise awareness about the dangers of acid attacks, was on her way to an exam center May 19, 2014, with her sister, who had left her husband after reportedly being subjected to abuse and torture, when the estranged husband attacked them, the report adds. According to Bano, he was angry that her sister had taken their son. Bano, who stepped in to protect her sister, was unaware that he was carrying a corrosive substance.
Her sister, too, suffered burn injuries, but hers were worse. They lay on the road for hours before being helped to a hospital. She has been through nine months of five skin graft surgeries so far.
Bano, who has been associated with the NGO ‘Make Love Not Scars,’ which rehabilitates survivors of acid attacks and other forms of gender-based violence and discrimination and facilitates their integration into the society, has also been the face of a global initiative, #EndAcidSale.
The fashion show is part of a campaign called #IAmNYFW, which aims to increase diversity in fashion. Bano told Daily Mail that she is ‘proud’ to get the opportunity to help others and ‘give a voice’ to women like her who have been suffering alone.
“I am hoping my participation will give them a confidence that they do not need to hide behind the veils,” she said.