Aruna Shanbaug: Tributes paid to India nurse raped 42 years ago

A view of the body of nurse Aruna Shanbaug before her funeral procession, in Mumbai, India, 18 May 2015. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Aruna Shanbaug was 25 years old when she was brutally raped

Tributes have been paid to an Indian nurse who died on Monday after spending 42 years in a persistent vegetative state after being raped and strangled.

Aruna Shanbaug was left with severe brain damage and paralysed after the 1973 attack by a ward attendant in the Mumbai hospital where she worked.

Her case sparked a debate about India's euthanasia laws. The Supreme Court had rejected a plea to allow her to die.

Her attacker served a seven-year-sentence for attempted murder.

Ms Shanbaug was 25 years old when she was sodomised by a KEM hospital cleaner who strangled her with metal chains and left her to die on 27 November 1973.

She survived, but spent the rest of her life in hospital, force fed twice a day.

Image copyright AFP

Different generations of doctors, nurses and other staff members at KEM Hospital, one of the biggest and busiest in Mumbai, took care of Ms Shanbaug for more than four decades.

Image copyright AFP

Every morning, the doctors and nurses used to care for her. They would do a medical check-up, followed by feeding her food and medicines. The rest of the day would be spent in ensuring that she was moved to avoid bed sores.

Bouquet of flowers were placed near her body after it was brought to the hospital's central hall.

Image copyright EPA

A doctor told the BBC that Ms Shanbaug had become a "family member" for the hospital's staff. "She was one of our own. Her fight was tough and we are glad that we stood by her all those years," he said.

Doctors, nurses and relatives attended Ms Shanbaug's funeral on Tuesday. "My broken, battered baby bird finally flew away. And she gave India a passive euthanasia law before doing so," journalist and author Pinki Virani, who wrote Aruna's Story, a book on the nurse's plight, told the BBC.

More on this story