by Mus Coombs
Decades ago, during my childhood, I vividly recall seeing weathered women, their skin deeply tanned by the sun, carrying heavy woven baskets filled with faeces from village toilets. In these parts, the absence of flushing toilets was commonplace due to limited access to irrigation, with households relying on hand pumps for water. Astonishingly, it was only the Christian community that was permitted to undertake this arduous and extremely unpleasant work.
Pakistan’s religious minorities endure discrimination and persecution that cut deep. The majority community often employs physical violence and threats to silence those who dare to dissent. Women from minority communities are particularly vulnerable, facing forced conversions and marriages. The discrimination against Christians in Pakistan takes various forms, most notably in their socio-economic status.
Many belong to the most impoverished strata of society, working as street sweepers, sanitary laborers, and servants for the privileged majority. Tragically, incidents of abuse and exploitation of these minority groups are all too frequent.
Pakistan has very strict blasphemy laws, which are often used to persecute Christians.
A significant portion of Pakistan’s Christian population have roots among low-caste Hindus who converted during the British Raj, seeking an escape from the rigid caste system. Despite their rich history, Christians often find themselves excluded from alternative employment opportunities. Instead, they grapple with deep-seated institutional discrimination, leading to excessive workloads, exposure to occupational health hazards, safety risks, and even fatalities for sanitary workers.
Socio-economic disparities and limited access to education and employment opportunities have left many Pakistani Christians struggling to provide for their families and make ends meet.
This situation calls for greater awareness and concerted action to uplift the lives of marginalized Christians in Pakistan. It’s essential to highlight the efforts of individuals and organizations working diligently to address this issue and to empower these communities.