Who Is Rukhmabai, the Woman in Today’s Google Doodle?
Rukhmabai was at the heart of the legal case that put in place the landmark Age of Consent Act of 1891.
If you’ve been on Google today, you’ve noticed that the doodle honours an Indian, Rukhmabai. One of the first practicing female doctors in British India, she was also at the heart of the legal case that put in place the landmark Age of Consent Act of 1891.
In a landmark case nearly 128 years ago, Rukhmabai, all of 25 then, told a British India court that she would suffer imprisonment rather than cohabit with her husband.
A child bride, Rukhmabai was married off when she was just 11. She was, however, allowed to complete her education before her husband, Dadaji Bhikaji Raut, demanded she come live with him. Rukhmabai refused, saying her consent had never been asked when they got married.
She was perhaps the first Hindu woman to have challenged the notion of marriage as a sacred institution, as opposed to the modern concept of two consenting individuals deciding to stay together. Implicit in her defiance was the idea that the consent of the bride was equally necessary.
It took 68 years for our society, not without a fair share of drama, to finally accept that Rukhmabai made a valid point by her act of defiance. The Hindu Marriage Act, passed in 1955, recognised the need for consent of both the parties as the binding principle in a conjugal relationship.
Today, 22 November 2017, we celebrate her 153rd birth anniversary!
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