World

Nurse dies after 42 years in coma following rape

A nurse died on Monday (May 18) after 42 years in a coma following a brutal rape in a Mumbai hospital.

Miss Aruna Shanbaug had been in a vegetative state since being strangled with a dog chain and sexually assaulted by a hospital worker in 1973 in the basement of King Edward Hospital.

She was discovered 11 hours after the attack, blind and suffering from a severe brain stem injury.  

At that time, she was 24 years old.

Her attacker was later jailed for seven years.

Debate on euthanasia

Miss Shanbaug died on Monday at the age of 66 after suffering a bout of pneumonia, officials at the hospital told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Miss Shanbaug's friend, Ms Pinki Virani, told Zee News TV channel: "Her actual death happened in 1973 (the date of the attack). Now what has happened is her legal death."

She said: "Our Aruna has given our country a big thing in the form of a law on passive euthanasia."

Miss Shanbaug’s plight became a focal point of debate on euthanasia in India after Ms Virani appealed to India’s top court in 1999 to allow her to die with dignity.

Indian laws do not permit euthanasia or self-starvation to the point of death.

Landmark ruling

But in 2011, the Supreme Court decided that life support could be legally removed for some terminally-ill patients in a landmark ruling that allowed "passive euthanasia" for the first time.  

The court said withdrawing life support could be allowed in exceptional circumstances, provided the request was from family and supervised by doctors and the courts.  

But the court rejected Ms Virani’s request to stop Miss Shanbaug from being force-fed on the grounds that she was not legally eligible to make the demand on Miss Shanbaug’s behalf.

Source: AFP

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