Aruna Shanbaug: Her Life Was So Unbearable That We Are Happy She Is No More

The Logical Indian Crew

March 9th, 2018

Image Credit: Chauraha

Aruna Shanbaug (1948 – 2015) – A name that will be remembered by all of us. A name that gave up on life today.

Aruna worked as a junior nurse in the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital, Parel, Mumbai. On the unfateful night of November 27, 1973, Aruna was changing her uniform after finishing her duty when the sweeper, Sohanlal Bhartha Valmiki, grabbed her with an intention to rape her. Unable to do so because of her menstruation, he put a dog chain around her neck and sodomized her. When he twisted the chain in order to immobilize her, it unfortunately blocked the oxygen flow to her brain, throwing her into a state of coma. Next day, she was found lying on the floor by a fellow worker.

The culprit, Sohanlal, was arrested but wasn’t charged for rape or sodomy since the doctors who examined her stayed mum about the anal rape as instructed by the hospital Dean. Sohanlal was convicted of assault and robbery for which he was sentenced to two concurrent 7-year imprisonments; but, such was the mockery of life that he completed his term and was set free from the prison, whereas, all that was left of Aruna was a screaming, vegetative body. Over the last 42 years, she had become so fragile that her bones would break if held awkwardly, her teeth had decayed, and she had no sense of awareness or sight. She was a virtually dead person, living her life on the support of the ventilator.

Could anything have been done to end her misery? Yes. The answer is euthanasia or mercy killing. It is the step the court could’ve taken when Aruna’s friend Pinki Virani filed a petition in the court to euthanize Aruna, but the court rejected the appeal stating that even though Pinki has been a good friend of Aruna, the hospital staff that has been taking her care for the past so many years for day and night have a better chance to be called her next friend, and that their opinion to not euthanize Aruna will be taken into consideration.

Aruna Shanbaug suffered a cardiac arrest today morning and she finally gave up on life after fighting for 42 long years. Aruna was 67 years old and in the past 42 years, had shown very few signs of improvement. If we look closely at the case, her joyful spirit had already left her body on the horrific night of 27th November 1973, it was just her body that gave up today morning.

She will always be remembered through time and our hearts will always break a little on hearing her name.

For the first time, there is peace in hearing about the end of a life because sometimes, it is only death that can bring an end to someone’s sufferings.

-Aafreen Ansari

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