Rukhmabai Raut's 153rd birthday celebrated with a Google Doodle

Yolanda Curtis
November 23, 2017

Behind the woman in the picture, you will also look after some nurses in a hospital to look after the patients.

Today Google celebrated the 153rd birthday of Rukhmabai Raut by dedicating today's Google Doodle to her. Rukmabai, naturally, refused. Rukmabai argued that she does not consider this marriage because she could not give her consent at that age. She was married off at an age of 11 to Dadaji Bhikaji, who was aged 19.

Raut's mother later remarried, and it was Raut's stepfather, a surgeon named Sakharam Arjun, who encouraged her to pursue further education. On the other hand, Rukhmabai did not show interest in her husband and continued to study, living with her stepfather, who after receiving many notices from lawyers, obtained legal aid to protect Rukhmabai. The court, in its judgement, directed Rukhmabai to live with her husband or go to the jail. Bhikaji demanded for restitution of conjugal rights.

She did not stop with medicine, choosing to become a social reformer as well, by writing against child marriage and women's seclusion. The debates around Hindu vs. At the time of her marriage it was arranged so that Dadaji Bhikhaji would live with Rukhmabai's family and in due course of time will attain education. Throughout her life, she continued to serve mankind while also throwing light on archaic practices that needed to be abolished such as the purdah system. She then went on to seek out Queen Victoria, who overruled the court's verdict and dissolved the marriage, albeit awarding Dadaji two thousand rupees. Bhikaji took his claim back over Raut after a payment of two thousand rupees. With his support, Rukhmabai studied hard. She received enormous support during her study at the London School of Medicine for Women from Dr Edith Pechey, several activists and her fellow Indians. In order to lobby for her stance, she authored a series of articles, with the pseudonym 'A Hindu Lady, ' highlighting the plight of women in the context of child marriage and the restrictions placed on their life after widowhood. Her case was studied by many and sparked many discussions from a feminist perspective in England.

This landmark divorce left a deep impression on the country's social psyche, boosted feminism in England and finally resulted in the historic passing of "Age of Consent Act, 1891", which banned child marriages not only in the tradition-steeped India but the entire British Empire.

After rejecting an offer from Women's Medical Service, Rukhmabai came back to Surat in 1894 and chose to contribute her part in a state hospital in Rajkot run for women, where she served as a chief medical officer till 1929-1930, for around 35 years.

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