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Advertisement for sanitation workers targeting Christians criticised in Pakistan

The Trans - Continental Pharma, a hospital management company posted the job advertisement looking for sweepers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The advertisement reads: "Christian community will be preferred".

Albert David, a formal member of the National Commission for Minorities expressed concerns regarding the ad. It may give the impression that only Christians should do menial, low-paid jobs and members of the Muslim community are more superior to perform such work. According to a study by Water Aid, around 80% of sanitation workers in Pakistan are Christians.

Mr David stated: “I contacted the chief executive officer of the company and registered a strong protest against the discriminatory advertisement on behalf of my community. The official has promised to amend the advertisement.”

However, there has no alteration been up until this moment. A discriminatory advertisement is a breach of Article 27 of Pakistan’s constitution and international treaty. 

Mr David explained: “Article 27 provides safeguards against discrimination in services or employment, but this has been so blatantly trampled upon over the decades. The U.N. and International Labour Organization’s Discrimination – Employment and Occupation – Convention, 1958 (No. 111) describes discrimination as ‘Any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation. This systemic policy of reserving sanitation posts for non-Muslims must end now, as it has a direct bearing on the image of the community”. 

The National Commission for Human Rights started a campaign against discriminatory advertisements for the recruitment of sanitary workers in 2022. They aim to file a suit against the government to remove prejudicial bulletins. The Islamabad High Court issued warnings to companies regarding discriminatory adverts targeting Christians, but they have not stopped since.   

Christians are often referred to as Chuhra – meaning low caste. This is a derogatory word, originally used in Hindu cast systems. Sweepers are looked down on, their work is considered degrading and defiling. They face other abusive terms from locals on a regular basis. 

According to Ejaz Augustine, a Christian lawmaker in the Punjab Assembly, they want non-Muslim sweepers because they can be easily abused: “Though many Pakistanis can be found doing menial jobs abroad, it is rare to find any Muslim doing the same job in their own homeland. The attitude within Pakistan is as though the Christians were in the country to clean up after Muslims. How can one expect greatness from a nation that does not even know how to clean its streets and treats its sanitary workers as sub-human?”


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