The alleged attacks, which have drawn nationwide condemnation on social media, happened in the conservative district of Kashmore in southern Sindh province. Many have urged the government to quickly put the man on trial, sentence him to death and execute him in public.
Kashmore police chief Amjad Ali Sheikh told reporters Thursday the alleged attacker, identified as Rafique Malik, was in custody. On Friday, police said they were sill questioning Malik, who they said lured the woman to his home by promising to provide her employment.
The woman was later handed over to another man who also allegedly raped her, Sheikh said. That man was identified as Khairullah Bugti, who police say fled to bordering southwestern Baluchistan province and raids were being carried out to trace and arrest him.
According to police, Malik allowed the woman to leave on a promise she would bring another woman to him and held her 5-year-old daughter as hostage. Malik then allegedly raped the young girl.
After leaving Malik’s house, the woman reached a nearby police station and alerted officers to the incident, according to Akbar Channa, another Kashmore police official who is investigating the case.
Channa said police arrested Malik using a ruse in which the wife of a police officer called Malik by telephone and lured him to a public park. Police rescued the woman’s daughter from a cattle shed where she had been kept.
“Our eyes were wet with tears when we heard this five-year-old-girl’s ordeal,” Channa told The Associated Press on Friday. “I have handled murder cases in my life, I have seen bombings too but I never cried as a police officer. But our hearts are broken over what happened to this girl and to her mother.”
Channa said Malik did not yet have legal representation.
Sexual harassment and violence against women is common in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are killed each year in so-called “honour killings” for allegedly violating conservative norms on love and marriage.
Pakistan has witnessed an increase in incidents of rape since 2018, when a serial killer raped and murdered 7-year-old Zainab Ansari in the eastern city of Kasur in Punjab province.
The case drew nationwide protests and Mohammad Imran was later hanged after being sentenced to death.
In September, two men gang-raped a mother in front of her children after her car broke down on a desolate highway in Punjab province. Both men were later arrested.
Munir Ahmed, The Associated Press