Shafiq Masih, a 45-year-old Catholic in Pakistan, stood inside a manhole, half his body submerged in the dark slush of sewage. Someone asked him to look up, and the camera clicked. That photograph, published in several international publications, made him the face of sanitation workers in the Muslim-majority country.
“But it only deepened my seclusion within my own Catholic community,” laments Masih, who says he rarely goes to church because Catholics in his St. Paul’s Church in Lahore diocese “do not consider me part of their” community.
Masih is just one of the thousands of Catholic sanitation workers who face discrimination and social exclusion within the Church and society in Pakistan.
Masih says soon after his “work photo” was published in 2019 he became “sort of naked before the world.”