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ICC Note:

Due to widespread religious discrimination, Christians in Pakistan are often forced to work as the country’s sanitation workers and are exposed to life-threatening work conditions. Job advertisements for sanitation work in Pakistan often only non-Muslims, meaning Christians, to apply to sanitation jobs. Christianity is often viewed as a second-class religion in Pakistan and thus the country’s lowest and filthiest jobs are often set aside for Christians. Unfortunately, this also means the safety standards and benefits afforded those Christians that work as sanitation workers are bad and can often lead to individuals being killed on the job. 

08/10/2017 Pakistan (UCAN) – Seven months into his marriage Danish Masih was eagerly awaiting the birth of twins before he took up the part-time cleaning job that killed him.

The 22-year-old Christian sanitary worker was hired along with two colleagues, Saleem Maish, 50, and son Nadeem Masih, 17, to clean a blocked gutter in a city suburb on July 3.

Poor safety standards and equipment meant the three cleaners were exposed to toxic fumes and died.

Danish’s brother, Tanveer Masih, a sanitary worker himself, said that he was told over the phone that three Christians had fainted cleaning a 25-foot deep gutter. Tanveer’s name Masih is not a surname but identifies him as a Christian male.”

I rushed straight to the spot where rescue teams had already arrived. They pulled them out of the sewer. While Saleem and Danish were already dead, Nadeem breathed his last at Victoria Hospital five hours later,” Tanveer told ucanews.com.

“Only a few days before his death, Danish learned that his wife was carrying twins. The two were ecstatic and were making preparations for the birth,” Tanveer recalled.

“Danish could not have foreseen that his life was about to end. What can we do now? I wish I could have stopped him from accepting this job but he never told me where he was heading. He only told me that he would be back in an hour,” he said.

“His wife is in a state of shock. We are trying our best to console her but she won’t stop crying.”

Tanveer was disappointed that no one from the government or local administration came to offer condolences or financial compensation.

This is not a one-off incident according to Christian activists. Sanitary workers, who are often ill equipped and undertrained, remain exposed to life-threatening conditions because of discriminatory attitudes from the administration and poor safety equipment.

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