Aruna Shaunbag was 24 years old. She was in an honourable profession- nursing. She was due to be married in a month. Life would have been normal, ordinary- just like it has been for many women before her, and will be for many women for centuries to come.
Except some sick man decided to ruin all that. He strangled her with a dog chain and sodomized her. And her life paused. Not ended- but paused.
The man who did this horrid act, was freed after 7 years. Because none of the doctors confirmed that there was sexual assault. 7 years was the price he paid for a crime he committed. 37 years of lying in a vegetative state is the price Shaunbag paid (and continues to pay), for no fault of hers.
The SC announced its verdict on a petition filed by author/activist Pinki Virani (who incidentally has written "Bitter Chocolate"- a book which tore my heart and soul apart when I read it as a 19 year old). They rejected her petition which sought to end Shanbaug's life so that she may not suffer the indignity of the life she's been leading.
Euthanasia is a sensitive topic world over. Out of the almost 200 countries in the world, a handful have legalized it, including only three states in the USA. Multiple debates, arguements, pros and cons have been discussed and analyzed over and over again. But nothing seems to have come out of it...and in all probability, nothing will. Because it is not about an aspect of life- like gay marriages. It is about life itself.
Personally, I don't have an opinion about mercy killing. It is way too complex and layered for me to form a judgement or a definite perspective about it. But one thing I am certain about- it should never ever be legalized in India. In a country where integrity is cheaper than luxury cars and designer clothes, euthanasia will for certain be misused. The best thing the Supreme Court can ever do for this country is never to make mercy killing 'ok'.
I also don't have an opinion about the SC's verdict. One part of me feels they could have taken some pity on the woman and just ordered the doctors to 'passively' kill her. Yet on another level, I think it was completely fair, and they did the best they could.
But there is something so incredibly sad about the whole case. I was pretty neutral about the whole situation and gave it no more than 10 minutes of my time each day while reading the newspaper, till the day I saw that she was 24 when the incident happened. And something about that fact, made me look at the case in a whole new light. It hit me, that no matter what the verdict is, or could have been or should have been, at the end of the day- that 24 year old is lost forever. Her dreams, her aspirations, her goals, her future, will forever remain unknown. An entire life has been wasted.
Maybe it's because I just turned 24, and most of my friends/acquaintances are around that age.
Maybe it's because I am a girl, and this case is a reminder of just how vulnerable a woman is, regardless of who she is, or where she is.
Maybe it's because I suddenly feel the need to value every second of my existence, and pray that nothing remotely close to this ever happens to anyone, ever again.
But I hope Aruna Shaunbag gets her justice. In some way or the other. It's the least life owes to her.