Nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who was in coma for 42 years after rape, passes away

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Mumbai, 18/5: Aruna Shanbaug, the nurse from KEM hospital who was raped by a ward boy in 1973, passed away on Monday. She was living in a vegetative state for the last 42 years.Dr Pravin Bangar, the KEM Hospital spokesperson said, “She passed away at 8.30 am. She was suffering from pneumonia and was shifted to intensive care unit in Tuesday.Reacting to the news of her death, Virani said, “Aruna got justice after all these painful years. She has found release and peace.””While going, Aruna gave India the landmark passive euthanasia law,” she said.Meanwhile, Aruna’s death has got one of her relative on her side. Her niece Smita Nayak arrived at KEM Hospital to claim her body.Nayak said, “We had come to meet her 15 years back but hospital didn’t allow them.”The 66-year-old was battling a serious bout of pneumonia and was on ventilator support, King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital sources said.She was in the medical ICU of the hospital located in Parel area of Mumbai.Shanbaug was rushed out of the tiny room attached to ward number 4 that had been her home for four decades on Tuesday, after nurses attending to her saw she had difficulty in breathing. She was taken to the medical ICU and started on antibiotics.

The Supreme Court of India had in 2010 admitted a petition to grant euthansia to Shanbaug, because of her permanent vegetative state. However, it was turned down the following year.

She was brutally attacked by ward boy Sohanlal Bartha Valmiki on November 27, 1973. As Shanbaug was menstruating at the time, Valmiki sodomised her after strangling her with a dog chain, cutting off the oxygen supply to her brain.The brutal attack had left Shanbaug blind, paralysed and comatose. Valmiki was convicted for attempt to murder and for robbing Aruna’s earrings, but was never tried for rape.Since then, Shanbaug was treated in the room outside the ward on the ground floor and nurses have been her family. Of late, Shanbaug, who loved fish, was on ryles tube feeding after she lost her teeth.Pinki Virani had narrated the story of the ailing nurse, who hailed from Haldipur in Uttar Kannada, in her 1998 non-fiction book called ‘Aruna’s Story’, while Duttakumar Desai wrote the Marathi play, ‘Katha Arunachi’ in 1994–95, which was staged under director Vinay Apte in 2002.Meanwhile, municipal authorities have asked relatives of Shanbaug to contact the hospital staff. Her last known relative, a sister, passed away a few years ago.

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