Pakistani Christian sanitary worker dies after doctors refuse to touch 'dirty' body

A Christian sanitary worker who fainted inside a manhole in Pakistan died after doctors at a hospital refused to start the needed treatment until his "dirty" body was washed.

(REUTERS / Eric Thayer)A New York City police officer stands guard near the United Nations building in New York September 24, 2007.

In an interview with Dawn, Parvez recalled how his brother Irfan and three of his fellow workers entered a manhole along Chhore Road for a routine inspection on June 2. However, the four of them suffocated and fainted while still inside the manhole.

The four unconscious sanitary workers were brought to the Civil Hospital Umerkot. However, the doctors there said the patient's body had to be washed or else they would not start treatment. Parvez said the doctors repeatedly refused to treat his brother until his body was cleaned. The three other workers were moved to another hospital in Karachi for further treatment.

"My brother died during the process of cleansing the filth from his body," said Parvez, who added that Irfan would have survived if he had been treated quickly.

In response to what happened to Irfan, local workers and members of the Christian community in Umerkot took the victim's body and protested outside the local press club. Irfan's father Nazeer Maseeh also filed a complaint against three doctors and three other suspects, and police said they are already conducting raids to arrest the six accused individuals.

The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan has seen a sharp rise since 2012, based on Jinnah Institute's 2015 report titled "State of Religious Freedom in Pakistan." From 2012 to 2015, there were 351 recorded incidents of violence targeting minorities, The Nation reports.

In addition, Jinnah Institute's report said there were 14 Christians who were charged with blasphemy, and some were kidnapped and subjected to forced religious conversion. Moreover, the government reportedly did little to address these attacks targeting the Christian community.