India rape victim dies after 42 years unresponsive

An Indian nurse, raped 42 years ago and became unresponsive, dies at 68. Photo: NDTV

An Indian nurse who was raped 42 years ago, and who had been in a persistent vegetative state ever since, has died, local NDTV reported.

Aruna Shanbaug, 68, was raped, at the age of 25, in the Mumbai-based King Edward Memorial hospital where she worked, and sustained a serious brain damage following the attack in 1973.

Sohanlal Bharta Valmiki, who she had scolded for stealing food that was meant for stray animals adopted by the hospital, sodomised her and then strangled her with a dog chain, cutting off oxygen supply to her brain.

Found blind and brain-damaged 11 hours after the attack, she survived, but spent the rest of her life in hospital, fed through the nose twice a day.

She died of a heart attack following pneumonia which she developed a week ago.

Her attacker was not charged with rape, but served a seven-year jail sentence for robbery.

India’s Supreme Court in 2011 rejected a petition by Pinki Virani, author of the book “Aruna’s Story”, to stop the force-feeding of Aruna.

Virani also argued for legal euthanasia for Aruna, but in vain.

Differently from a coma in which the patient lacks both awareness and wakefulness, a persistent vegetative state, also called post coma unresponsiveness in Australia,  describes a condition of partial consciousness in which the patient can respond to certain external stimuli, occasionally open their eyes and may experience sleep-wake cycles.