Rukhmabai is today’s google doodle. Why? Because Dr Rukhmabai Raut was the first practicing doctor in colonial India. To pay respect to her on her 153rd birthday on 22nd November, 2017 google decided to make her the face of their homepage. Now, this was one badass woman who fought against a billion stereotypes and prejudices to open up the stage for female doctors in India. And as I went digging through her achievements, I found five reasons why every woman out there should know about her while we wait for the movie, UnIndian based on her life where Tannishtha Chatterjee will be playing the doctor.
1. She was married off at the age of eleven to a nineteen year old teenager, but she refused to leave her house and continued to live with her mother. This was one of the reasons why she became a huge part of the Age of Consent Act, 1891 (raising the age of consensual intercourse for young girls from ten to twelve years of age, despite their marital status).
2. At the age of 22, in 1880 Rukhmabai was taken to court by her legal husband, Dadaji because she refused to live with him. She considered the separation of 11 long years non-binding, especially since she had been married off as a child. Though she lost the case in court (the court asked her to live with her husband or face prison for 6 months and this brave woman said she’d rather go to jail! Thankfully, the verdict was overruled by Queen Victoria). But the stir this case caused played a major role in the passing of the Age of Consent Act.
3. She wrote a number of letter in the newspaper under the name of A Hindu Lady, gaining a huge fan following when she spoke about women's rights and such. When she finally did express her wish to study medicine, she found support in her readers who created a fund (Rukhmabai Defence Committee) to get her the education she deserved.
4. Her medical degree was received from London School of Medicine, England where she finished her 5 years degree course. Later she returned to India and practiced in Rajkot and Surat.
5. After serving for thirty five years as a doctor, she retired in Mumbai. But he fight in her didn’t. She published a pamphlet ‘Purdah-the need for its abolition’ and began a new journey.
You learnt something new today, doesn’t that feel great?
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