Know Aruna Shanbaug: The face of euthanasia debate in India

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 18, 2015 11:45 IST

Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug, the nurse who was in a vegetative state since she was brutally raped by a ward boy in a Mumbai hospital in November 1973, died on Monday morning.

Her life in a vegetative state for the past 42 years, and the Supreme Court’s rejection of a petition seeking mercy killing for her, had made her the face of the debate on euthanasia in India.

For the past few days, Shanbaug's condition was critical and she was on ventilator support.

Here is a brief timeline of Shanbaug’s life:

* Aruna Shanbaug came to Mumbai from Haldipur in Karnataka. She had got a job as a nurse at King Edward Memorial Hospital. She stayed with her sister Shanta Nayak for at least a month in a Worli chawl and would visit her sibling regularly until the horrific rape.

* Shanbaug was assaulted and raped by sweeper Sohanlal Bharta Valmiki on November 27, 1973. He choked her with a dog chain and sodomised her. It resulted in oxygen being cut off to her brain. This resulted in extensive damage to her brain that left her in a vegetative state.

* She was found lying unconscious the day after the sexual assault. Since then, she was confined to a room in ward 4 of KEM Hospital.

* Shanta Nayak, her sole relative in Mumbai, died in September 2013. KEM Hospital employees said her relatives had stopped visiting her a few years after the rape. Since then, nurses and doctors had cared for her.

* In March 2011, the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by author Pinki Virani seeking euthanasia for Shanbaug. The petition was opposed by the hospital's management and nursing staff. Virani also wrote a book on Shanbaug.

* Shanbaug’s bones turned brittle, her teeth decayed and she often developed bed sores. She was usually fed mashed food through a feeding tube. Nurses said she was fond of fish.

*Her rapist Valmiki served a seven-year sentence in prison after being convicted of robbery and attempted murder. The sodomy was not disclosed.

Read | Aruna Shanbaug, who was in a vegetative state for 42 years, dies in Mumbai

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