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Friday, 10 August 2012

Who will care for the carers? The coming cover-up?

Thanks to Sunny Gill for photo

Christian nurses face widespread abuse, rape and harassment, and even attempted murder.  In the latest case, nearly a dozen Christian nurses were targeted in their hospital accommodation with a fast acting poison which could have easily ended in death, leaving a number of them in intensive care.  Fortunately they are all now out of hospital, but the circumstances give rise to grave questions.

Firstly, the strong suspicion is that they were targeted because of their faith as Christians.  It is currently the season of Ramadan, a period where no-one is supposed to eat or drink during the day.  Reports from round the world indicate that non-Muslims or those not fasting for other reasons (pregnancy, ill-health etc) are supposed to show 'sensitivity' to fasters by not eating or drinking in public.  In Pakistan, for instance, eating in public during Ramadan is illegal, although hospital workers are actually exempt.  The trouble is that at the civil hospital in Karachi where this event happened, the mostly Muslim staff don't approve of non-Muslims eating during Ramadan.  Many non-Muslims don't fast, even eat in public, yet caring Christians nurses who were drinking tea (in private) were targeted (apparently the nurse preparing the tea left things unattended for a short while to get some sugar).  The poison acted within seconds of them drinking the tea.

The hospital originally registered an FIR against the unknown culprit.  However at least one of the poisoned nurses has said they believe the hospital is engaging in a cover-up by quickly discharging the nurses and sending them home.  There is some speculation that it was actually another member of staff who was responsible.  Now the nurses have declined to proceed with the case because 'they were unable to identify the culprit'.

Now it turns out that, according to the nurses priest, they are being threatened by the hospital administration that 'giving out information could result in hospital authorities slapping a court case on them, accusing them of taking drugs before drinking the tea'.

The nurses also say that the police investigating the case asked a number of vulgar questions, a tactic the BPCA has come across before when police question female minority victims of crime.  In addition, there are text stories going around saying that the nurses have died, which also causes them depression and anxiety.  In short, it looks like intense pressure is being put on the nurses by the authorities (and likely intense pressure is being put on the hospital by the authorities) to cover up this attempted murder of Christian nurses just for drinking tea.  All these factors go to show, as we have just reported, the widespread nature of societal intolerance in Pakistan.

Sources : 1, 23, 4, 5.

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