Today (November 22), Google is celebrating the birthday of Rukhmabai dedicating a doodle on her in her respect. For those of you, who don’t know about Rukhmabai. Here are somethings, you must know about her. She was born on November 22 in 1864. In the 1880s, at a time when Indian women hardly had any rights to speak of, a gutsy and determined woman did the impossible. Married at the age of 11, child bride Rukhmabai Bhikaji contested her husband’s claim to conjugal rights in an iconic court case that led to the passage of the Age of Consent Act in 1891. She was married off at the young age of eleven, while her husband, Dadaji Bhikaji was nineteen years old. Despite being married, Rukhmabai and Dadaji never lived together. Rukhmabai continued with her education. Rukhmabai and Dadaji lived apart for several years, during which he did not worry about his ‘wife’. He later got in touch with her, perhaps interested in the money she had inherited after her mother passed away. She refused to go, continued to live with her step-father and pursued her education, going against the norms of society.
In March 1887, Rukhmabai was ordered to go live with her husband or spend six months in jail. Subsequently, after numerous hearings, the marriage was affirmed, where Rukhmabai wrote to Queen Victoria. The Queen overruled the court’s verdict and dissolved the marriage. In July of 1888, Dadaji accepted monetary compensation of two thousand rupees to dissolve the marriage. Her case won the support of a number of people and when she expressed her wish to study medicine, a fund was raised for her to travel and study medicine at the London School of Medicine. She graduated,successfully completed 5 years degree course and worked in a women’s hospital in Surat. She became one of the first practising woman doctors in colonial India. She was also at the heart of a landmark legal case which led to the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, 1891.
Rukhmabai, was a strong and determined woman, who did not give in to society’s constraints. We pay our utmost repect to Rukhmabai and women power.