Last year Reshma Bano Qureshi, 18, was attacked by her brother-in-law and a group of men who held her down and poured sulfuric acid on her face. The attacked left Qureshi deeply scarred—her left eye is also missing—and some of her attackers were never prosecuted.
Now Qureshi is speaking out about her ordeal in a video that plays on the familiar tropes of the online beauty tutorial. In the video, produced by Make Love Not Scars, Qureshi promises to show viewers “how to get perfect red lips,” it quickly turns, however, to reveal that it’s as easy to purchase acid in India as it is to buy a tube of lipstick.
Bharat Nayak, a spokesperson for Make Love Not Scars, told the New York Times, “that bending traditional norms of female beauty was a powerful tactic intended to bring attention to persistent attacks against women in India despite efforts to limit the sale of acid used in many attacks.”
Nayak estimates that there are around 1,000 acid attacks yearly in India, despite the fact that Supreme Court ordered tighter measures on the distribution of acids in 2013. The Times notes that toilet-cleaning acid and other industrial cleaning acids are still, however, readily available on the open market.
“How To Get Perfect Red Lips” is part of a series of “beauty tutorials” intended to raise awareness of just how easy it is to obtain acids for the purpose of attacks. Other videos include Qureshi providing “tips” on eyeliner and dark spots.
Make Love Not Scars is part of a broader advocacy movement in the country, and it’s worth reading the Times’ entire story on the subject.