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Rape victim dies after 42 years in a coma in Mumbai hospital

A nurse who had been in a vegetative state for the last 42 years after being raped, died in a Mumbai hospital. Her case sparked a debate about euthanasia laws in India.

Aruna Shanbaug died on Monday after contracting pneumonia, according to a spokesman for Mumbai's King Edward Memorial Hospital.

The brain-damaged 66-year-old nurse had been in a coma for 42 years after being raped by a hospital cleaner in 1973. Her coma was among the world's longest.

Her attacker served 7 years in prison for robbery and assault. He died several years ago.

Her case triggered a debate about euthanasia in India. In 2011, India's supreme court rejected a petition by a journalist, Pinki Virani, for a mercy killing, saying medical evidence suggested that she should live. Her petition was also objected to by the nurses who looked after Shanbaug.

It was considered a landmark ruling as the court has since allowed passive euthanasia in some cases. Previously, euthanasia was illegal in India.

Active euthanasia describes actions that put an end to a person's life, for example, by administering a lethal injection. Passive euthanasia involves withdrawing life-support systems from a patient.

ng/kms (dpa, AP)

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