Have you heard about Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug?

Welcome back fellow humans, I hope you are all well. 

I am about to discuss the sequence of saddening events that befell an Indian nurse Aruna Shanbaug, who lost everything and lived in pain till the end because of violence and vengeance committed by Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki. 

Aruna was born in 1948 at Haldipur, Karnataka.

Aruna was a studious girl, who left her village in Karnataka to become a nurse in Mumbai at the age of 18. She passed her exams and joined King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital as a junior nurse on the 15th February 1966. She began working in the neurosurgery division and subsequently transferred to the dog surgery division. She was assigned to the feeding and wellbeing of the dogs, maintaining acceptable hygienic standards in the operation theatre and kennels. As days passed by, Aruna was praised for her devotion towards her duties and responsibilities by staff members and valued by her patients.


Aruna was saving up money for a new house and her marriage to Dr Sardesai. However, the ward attendant, Sohanlal was plotting to ruin Aruna because she refused to give him days off to visit his sick mother-in-law and she threatened to report him to the authorities for stealing the food of the dogs used in medical experiments. On the night of November 27th, 1973, she was sexually assaulted and robbed by Sohanlal in the hospital’s basement as she was changing. He choked her with an iron chain while he was assaulting her. Her battered body was discovered by a cleaner in the morning. She was left with severe brain and cervical cord damage due to the strangulation that cut off the oxygen to her brain. The centre part of the brain remained intact which kept her responsive only of pain in a vegetative state confined to a bed for forty decades. 

Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki

In the early 70s in India, exposing a matter as sensitive as rape would bring disgrace to the family and the society would outcast and further traumatise the victim. Sohanlal served a seven-year jail sentence for the physical assault and robbery but was never punished for the sexual assault because the hospital’s director hid the matter of sexual molestation since he thought he was protecting her honour. The strict law passed in 2014 after the gang rape and killing of a student on a Delhi bus in 2012. In that context, Sohanlal would be imprisoned for another 10 years in conjunction with the seven-year sentence. 


Family members abandoned her Aruna because they never received any compensation from the hospital authorities and they could not afford the treatment. Her fiance had also moved on with his life and got married someone else. The hospital staff remained faithful and took care of all her needs. Aruna’s case prompted the Euthanasia Debate in India when journalist Pinki Virani requested mercy killing for Aruna. Although the Supreme Court refused the petition on 7th March 2011, it authorised passive euthanasia by removing life support to patients in a longlasting vegetative condition. 

Journalist Pinki Virani

Aruna was diagnosed with pneumonia and passed away in the morning of 18th May 2015. Her life revealed a tale of a woman’s degradation and how rape and subjugation left the individual victimised for the rest of her life. 


Thank you for reading, fellow humans.

50 thoughts on “Have you heard about Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug?

  1. Oh my this is so heartbreaking to know what she went through. I like reading stories like this makes you be more grateful for the life you have and never take it for granted.


  2. Not yet but with this post, now yes. I hope the legacy continues. Can be considered a post for the international women’s day the past few days.


  3. I read about Aruna Shanbaug some years back. It felt good to re read it. It’s always important to honour such people who give everything!


  4. Wow, I didn’t know about her. I’m glad you shared your story, but this is sad. No one should ever get away with rape. Ever.


  5. So shameful and saddening. Her life was cut short in such a tragic, uforrgiving way. Thank you for bringing her story attention.


  6. What a truly tragic story. I can not imagine what it would be like to suffer from barbaric acts. Thank you for teaching me something nee today.


  7. This is very sad. I read this somewhere else too.She use to work in King Edwards Memorial Hospital in Mumbai. Earlier I dont know about the reason of her death. Crime and rapes are increasing day by day


  8. Yes, I know Aruna’s story. I used to keep myself updated with her story. I did not know the reason for creating such a crime. We never know what some people of mind is. They can get over angry on things which are not worth and then end up taking on someone else life. Aruna was one such soul whose life was wasted and painful because of that non-sensible man.


  9. Rape is a really disgusting thing. I feel so sad after I read what happen to her and what they did to her. Thank you for sharing.


  10. The hurtful reality of human beings whereas you are being praised and have many friends while you are functional and useful for them. And instantly dismissed once you are not – the truth of life.
    May her soul be blessed.


  11. it’s interesting how some people can go through so much turmoil/suffering. She was a strong woman with a strong soul to take on all that she did. Bless her soul!


  12. Such an incredibly sad story, though I have a feeling hers is not the only one. I hope things in India continue to improve for women because those who commit sexual assault should be punished.


  13. That’s such a tragic story there. It’s good they were able to pass a law allowing her to die but it’s just so sad that guy got away with what he did to her because the hospital thought it was protecting her honor.


  14. That is so scary! The story is horrible and so inhuman! I hope such thing will never ever happen again. I wish her life was different.


  15. Reading this truly sickens me. What Aruna had to go through is absolutely awful, there are no words. Thank goodness that they campaigned to bring her the justice that she deserved. I can’t even imagine what she went through. Its heartbreaking.


  16. This information regarding a nurse named Aruna is really new to me, and it’s kinda overwhelming to have all these to happen in reality. She lived as a woman with so much strength despite what had happened.. those who do such crimes should pay for it!


  17. It is so sad. I have heard of her story before from an Indian lady I know. It is devastating, nobody deserves such a fate


  18. This story is truly heartbreaking. May her soul rest in peace, and her story be a great reminder that any sexual assault must be punished.


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