She came from the community of carpenters and was a rebel for all the right reasons. Her strong character and dedication made her the first woman physician of India. Rukhmabai Bhikaji Raut, an influential lady of colonial India was born on November 22, 1864, and died at the age of 90 years. She gave 50 years of her life to medical practice in India.
Her long medical practice was preceded by an enlarged journey of defiance and transformation in the traditional practices. Playing the part of a strong-willed and independent woman, even in the times of extreme traditional stifling, she brought the transformation. Even women of modern India fathoms with her thoughts and live through.
A Mutiny for her Juvenile Marriage
At the age of 11 years, Rukhmabai was married to Dadaji Bhikaji. This was considered as a sacred affair during the times of colonial India. While being the master of her own choices, Rukhmabai not only fought extensively to breach her unconsented marriage, but her brave acts also led to the support of law called, Age of Consent Act, 1891. This abolished the child marriage ritual in the British Empire. However, this was not a cakewalk for her, as under the pressure of various fanatical Hindu groups and supporters, she was intermittently ordered to live with her husband or pay a heavy penalty. With a firm aspect and clarity in mind, she refused to enter into a concord.
A Strong Base of Education Provided her the Sense of Embracing the Comprehensible Ideas and Discarding the Futile Ones.
While leading lights like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, called her acts as an outcome of western education and a threat to Hinduism, Scholar Max Müller called her as the “best judge of her own choices”.
Some Called Her Impudent Rebel, for Others She Was the Source of Fresh Panoramas.
Behramji Malabari, an acclaimed Indian poet got strongly influenced by Rukhmabai’s unshakable willpower and ability to embrace the changes. He delivered several works related to this moment.
She Decided Not to Bow Under the Age Old Rules, and the Freedom was Bestowed on Her
In the year 1888, she was separated from her husband after the overrule of Queen Victoria. A case which ran for straight three years won her the support from around the societies which were fighting for the change. Her name was prompt in the feminism moments in Britain.
She was the Lady of Substance, Who Pursued Her Studies with Conviction.
After breaking the shackles of her meaningless marital knot, she precedes to England for further studies. In the year 1889, she studied I London School of Medicine for Women. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rukhmabai) .
Her Immutable Decision Earned her the Respect of Rulers of the Society.
Her decision and willpower were so praised that a collective fund was established. This was named as Rukhmabai Defence Committee. It attracted some mighty contributors from around and the motto was, “demonstrating the courage to intervene against traditions”.
Her Reformation Work Which Included, “Purdah- the Need for Its Abolition”, was “Ahead of Its Time” Stance.
She worked extensively for the improvement of women health in the country. She did justice with her designation of Chief Medical Officer in a hospital for 35 years. Until the age of 91, she kept on nurturing the status of women in the society. Clean living, open-minded approach, healthy upbringing and no meaningless restrictions were her beliefs.
Today, her struggles seem more like a feminist’s frenzy or a usual moment against the conventions, but long back in her time, it was none less than bravery acts. A strong step which was simply perceived as taboo.
A woman of fair conviction, who swayed rustic minds and dying souls.