Rukhmabai, the first Indian woman physician

Rukhmabai Raut (born November 22, 1864 – September 25, 1955), was an Indian woman who became one of the first practicing women doctors in colonial India. However, first lady physician of India was Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi, who got her degree on 11 March 1886. But Dr. Joshi could not practise more than a year and so the credit of 1st practising lady physician on the basis of more duration goes to Dr. Rukhmabai Raut, who joined her medical course in 1889 and returned to India in 1894. Dr. Rukhmabai practised for more than 50 years in India.

Ded to India as a first qualified physician and worked for many years in Rajkot and Surat

Rukhmabai was born in Maharashtrian (Marathi) family to Janardhan Pandurang and Jayantibai who came from a community of carpenters(Sutars). When Janardhan Pandurang died, Jayantibai transferred her property to Rukhmabai who was only eight and when she turned eleven, she married her daughter off to Dadaji Bhikaji, then aged nineteen. Jayantibai married a widower, Dr Sakharam Arjun but Rukhmabai stayed in the family home and studied at home using books from a Free Church Mission library. Rukhmabai and her mother were regulars at the weekly meetings of the Prarthanä Samäj and the Arya Mahilä Samäj.[1] Dadaji lost his mother and took to living with his maternal uncle Narayan Dhurmaji. The environment of Dhurmaji’s home pushed Dadaji into a life of indolence and waywardness. Dhurmaji had a mistress at home and his wife attempted suicide. Rukhmabai at the age of twelve refused to move to the household of Dhurmaji to live with Dadaji and Sakharam Arjun supported her decision. In March 1884, Dadaji sent a letter, through his lawyers Chalk and Walker, to Sakharam Arjun asking him to stop preventing Rukhmabai from joining him. Sakharam Arjun responded through civil letters that he was not preventing her but soon he too was forced to obtain legal help. Through lawyers Payne, Gilbert, and Sayani, Rukhmabai provided grounds for refusing to join Dadaji. Dadaji claimed that Rukhmabai was being kept away because she could assert the rights to the property of her father’s.

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