Two Pakistani Christian sanitation workers die due to lack of safety equipment

22 March 2024

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Pray for the families of two Pakistani Christian sanitation workers who died after being sent into a sewer in Punjab province without any protective equipment.

A person looking at a Christian sewage worker down a drain in Pakistan

Marginalised Christians make up 90% of sanitation workers in Faisalabad [Image credit: AsiaNews]

Cousins Asif Masih, 25, and Shan Masih, 28, suffocated on 17 March after inhaling poisonous gases while attempting to clear a blockage in the sewer in Faisalabad. The cousins each leave a wife and three children.

Marginalised Christians in Muslim-majority Pakistan often work the lowest paid, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs, such as in sewers, factories and brick kilns, often without proper protective equipment.

The Masih cousins’ deaths were described as “murders through duty” by Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP). It stated the men were “forced” to enter the sewer without being given protective gear, such as masks.

This is despite a 2015 court order requiring local authorities to ensure protective gear was provided, said HRFP President Naveed Walter.

“Sanitary workers are one of the most marginalized segments of society,” said Walter, who pointed out that Christians currently make up 90% of sanitation workers in Faisalabad.

Many sanitation workers have died or suffered serious and disabling injuries or health problems because they were not provided with safety equipment. “Such incidents involving sanitary workers are not new, they have been happening for years,” said Walter.

In 2021 two Christian sanitation workers died saving a Christian colleague tasked with clearing a sewer in Punjab province. None of the men were supplied with any protective equipment.

Ask the Lord to draw close to the families of Asif and Shan and comfort them in their grief. Pray that proper protective equipment is provided to Christian sanitation workers in the future.

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