Acid attack survivor Reshma Qureshi walked the runway at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) on Thursday amid rounds of applause from the audience.

Nineteen-year-old Qureshi, who hails from Allahabad but now resides in Mumbai, wore a dress designed by Archana Kochhar. She was a victim of an acid attack a couple of years ago, which left her blind in one eye and disfigured her face.

Qureshi wore a beautiful cream floral floor-length gown for her first stint on the ramp at NYFW.

"I feel really good and the experience was great... I want to tell the world — do not see us in a weak light and see that even we can go out and do things," the acid attack survivor told AFP.

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"I couldn't believe it was happening to me," Quereshi said about the trip through a translator. "In that moment I felt extremely happy." She said she hopes her turn on the catwalk will inspire hope and confidence in other acid attack survivors and spur countries to regulate the sale of cheap and easily available acids.Reuters
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Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi has make-up applied before walking to present Indian designer Archana Kochhar's Spring/Summer 2017 collections during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., Sept. 8, 2016.Reuters

"For a few moments, I couldn't even believe I would come in such a big place and walk on such a big stage," Qureshi told reporters through a translator, adding that she had never thought that she would walk the ramp at a fashion show.

FTL Moda, a company that is committed to challenging beauty stereotypes prevalent in the fashion industry, invited Qureshi to walk the ramp at the NYFW.

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A smiling Quereshi opened the FTL Moda show on Thursday to applause in a long-sleeve, white gown with embroidered appliques by Indian designer Archana Kochhar during her first trip to the United States. The buzz and glamour of the event was a world away from Allahabad, India, where she suffered severe facial burns and lost an eye two years ago after being attacked with sulfuric acid by her estranged brother-in-law and two men.Reuters
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Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi rehearses.Reuters

"People have a tendency to look at acid attack survivors from one perspective. I don't want them to look at them like that anymore," Qureshi, who had been attacked by her estranged brother-in-law and two other men, told AFP. 

Qureshi has been working with acid-attack survivors and has made beauty-advice videos on YouTube. Her efforts led to the Indian government to ban the sale of acid in the open market.

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Increasing diversity on the catwalk has been an aim of FTL Moda. The production company has featured models with disabilities, in wheelchairs, on crutches and amputees. Australian model Madeline Stuart, who has Down's Syndrome, made her runway debut at the FTL Moda show last year.Reuters
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Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi has make-up applied before walking to present Indian designer Archana Kochhar's Spring/Summer 2017 collections during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 8, 2016.Reuters

"I believe beauty is not external, but rather what comes from within," Indian designer Archana Kochhar said in a news release, adding that she chose Quereshi to walk the ramp because of her involvement with acid-attack survivors.

"You need to take one second and look at Reshma and see how strong she is, how she can change her life. And I think people can draw strength from that," Bollywood actress Sunny Leone, who also walked the ramp for Kochhar's fashion show, told reporters.

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Quereshi never thought she would be going abroad, much less modeling in New York. After enduring numerous skin graft surgeries and contemplating suicide, she met the founder of Make Love Not Scars, a group that helps survivors of the gender-based crimes.Reuters
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"No one else understands what an acid attack is except the survivors themselves," she said. "I do not want this to happen to anyone else." About 1,500 acid attacks are reported each year, but Jaf Shah, the executive director of the London-based charity Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), said the real number is many times higher. "There are whole swathes of regions across the globe where acid attacks are occurring but are not being recorded," he said in a telephone interview.Reuters
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Indian model and acid attack survivor Reshma Quereshi rehearses.Reuters