In responding to coronavirus, even the most developed societies have been stretched to the limits. How much worse it is for persecuted and despised minorities, living on the margins of society.
Friends in Pakistan describe how the pandemic is piling hardship upon hardship. Their lives are difficult enough already: many are forced to live in apartheid-style caste-based shanty towns called “colonies”, with dirt floors, little clean water, no electricity, filthy latrines, and people living on top of one another. Pakistan’s Christians also face discrimination – the authorities reserve menial jobs for them, such as cleaning latrines. (A high-ranking official recently told me, with no hint of irony, that it was a sign of “respect” for Christians to allow them to clean the latrines of the majority.)
Throw in coronavirus, and the situation becomes catastrophic. Sanitation workers, 80-90 per cent of whom are Christians, are never routinely issued with clothing or gloves – let alone personal protective equipment (PPE).