Brahmin nurse left in vegetative state for 42 years after being raped by Dalit man: A tragic case that attracts no media attention

Aruna Shanbaug was born in a Konkani Brahmin family in 1948 in Haldipur, Uttar Kannada, Karnataka

New Delhi: In the limelight of the Hathras incident, media never discussed a case where a female Brahmin nurse was brutally raped which made her life hell. After the brutal rape, the nurse had to be kept on the life support system for almost 42 years.

We are talking about the case of Aruna Shanbaug, a former junior nurse, who passed away on May 18, 2015, after being in a vegetative state for more than 42 years.

Shanbaug had been sexually assaulted by a sweeper at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai in 1973, leaving her with severe brain damage and a persistent vegetative state for the rest of her life.

The assault occurred when Shanbaug was changing clothes in the hospital basement, and the attacker identified as Sohanlal Valmiki choked her with a dog chain and raped her. This caused a severe brain stem contusion, cervical cord injury, and cortical blindness, leaving her in a coma for several months before she emerged into a vegetative state.

Despite her condition, Shanbaug was taken care of by the hospital staff and remained in the same ward where she had worked before the assault. Her case gained widespread attention when journalist Pinki Virani filed a plea for euthanasia on her behalf in 2011, citing the unbearable suffering that Shanbaug had endured for over three decades.

The Supreme Court of India responded to Virani’s petition by setting up a medical panel to examine Shanbaug’s condition. However, the court ultimately rejected the plea for euthanasia, citing the lack of a law to regulate the practice in the country.

However, the court’s landmark opinion, in this case, allowed for passive euthanasia in India, which permits the withdrawal of life support measures from patients who are in a permanent vegetative state or terminally ill and have no hope of recovery.

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