The first Indian woman physician, Rukhmabai

Google Doodle today, November 22nd is a tribute to this brave woman who was a pioneer in medical practice(till then a fortress where men were alone qualified to practise). Born this day  in  1864 in Bombay, Rukhmabai was the only daughter of Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai.

One  of the first practicing women doctors in colonial India, Rukhmabai Raut was also at the heart of a landmark legal case which led to the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, 1891.

Age of Consent

Rukhmabai lost her father at 8 years and  was married off at the age of 11 to Dadaji Bhikaji. Her mother later married Dr. Sakharam Arjun, an eminent physician and the founding member of Bombay Natural History Society who became an inspiration and strength  to his step daughter.

Rukhmabai refused to go  with her husband stating that a woman cannot be compelled and the case was  fought in court for 3 years. Finally the judgement came in favour of Dadaji  and the court ordered Rukhmabai to live with her husband or  six months imprisonment. Rukhmabai said she was willing to opt the latter.

The verdict was subsequently overruled by Queen Victoria. This prompted the British government to bring the Age of Consent Act, 1891, despite opposition from conservative Indians.


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