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Today, November 22marks the birth anniversary of Rukhmabai, one of the first women physicians of India.

Rukhmabai was born on this day in the year 1864 in Bombay, and was the only daughter of Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai.

Rukhmabai's father passed away when she was just eight years old, and she was then married off at the age of 11 to Dadaji Bhikaji.


Later on Rukhmabai's mother, too, married Sakharam Arjun, who an eminent physician and the founding member of Bombay Natural History Society.

Interestingly, Rukhmabai, even after marriage, continued to stay with her mother and step-father. And, because of this, Dadaji Bhikaji moved to court seeking it to order his wife to live with him.

Here, Rukhmabai sternly refused to move in with her husband by saying that a woman cannot be compelled to stay in a wedlock when she is not interested. This decision of her was supported by her step-father, and he took the responsibility to fight the case in court.

But, as all odds were against Rukhmabai, the verdict went in favour of Dadaji Bhikaji. Finally, the court ordered Rukhmabai to live with her husband or face six months imprisonment. But, brave Rukhmabai said she was willing to opt the latter.


Rukhmabai Rukhmabai moved to England to study medicine after separating from her husband. Photo by Wikimedia Commons


Here, an interesting turn took place when verdict was subsequently overruled by Queen Victoria. This further prompted the government to bring the Age of Consent Act of 1891, despite opposition from some conservative Indians.

So, at last, Rukhmabai legally separated from her husband in the year 1888 and moved to England to study medicine. She got tremendous support from Dr. Edith Pechey of Bombay's Cama Hospital, some activists, and fellow Indians in England to complete her degree in the London School of Medicine for Women.

After completing her education, Rukhmabai came back to India in the year 1894 and practised medicine in Surat, Rajkot, and Bombay for the next 35 years, before she passed away on September 25, 1955.

This was the life of Rukhmabai, who even after facing a lot of societal challenges, completed her education in abroad and came to India to serve the country as one of the first woman physicians!

Today, on the birth anniversary of Rukhmabai, let us pledge to stand against what's wrong and do out level best for the country.


Keywords: India, Doctor, Rukhmabai, Women Empowerment, Society, Birth Anniversary


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