Rukhmabai, was sometimes also referred as Rakhmabai, was the first Indian woman practicing doctor during British India. Her journey hasn’t been easy though as at the young age of 11, she was forcefully married to a 19-year-old named Dadaji Bhikaji. However, even after the marriage, she chose to live with her mother who was a widow.
This incident led to a famous court case in 1885 and thus the Age of Consent Act was passed in 1891. Besides that two more evil practices like child marriage and enforced widowhood also came into limelight and were eventually abolished from the society. Finally, after getting freed from court cases, she decided to pursue further education and become a doctor. A doctor named Edith Pechey Phipson supported her and with his help, she first studied the English language in India and then relocated to London and studied at the London School of Medicine for Women. She finally obtained her degree in 1894 and returned back to India. After completion of her studies, she came back and was appointed as Chief Medical Officer in the city of Surat. She also practiced in Rajkot as well. During her professional career of a practicing doctor of 35 years, she also penned down various books on women’s seclusion and child marriage. She vowed to never marry again and throughout her life remained highly active in social activities and made a lot of reforms.
She enjoys the honour of being the first Indian practicing lady doctor. However, it was Anandi Gopal Joshi who was the first qualified doctor but she never practiced medicine. She faced severe humiliation throughout her life but never gave up and inspired a lot of Indian women to join hands and take medicine and social service as a career path. A movie titled Rukhmabai Bhimrao Raut directed by Ananth Mahadevan is an upcoming film which will showcase her journey. National award winner actress Tannishta Chatterjee will be playing her character in this film. Her inspiring story has also been incorporated in novels as well.