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28th January in Dalit History – First ever infanticide prohibition home of India was started by Savitribai Phule


28 January 1853: First ever infanticide prohibition home of India was started by Savitribai Phule[1].

Due to the Brahminical Social Order, those were the days when women irrespective of their caste and class were very much oppressed in all fields of life. There were many patriarchal and brahmnical traditions, values and rituals which were against women. Savitri Bai Phule, in Pune, worked hard in this regard too (apart from the education field). To resolve the dowery problem, she started organizing simple group marriages. When a women at any age happened to be widow (even girl child widow), she was forced to have her hair cut so that she could easily be identified as a widow.  In this regard, she met with the people of barber community and requested them not to cut hair of widows. After a long pursuance, they got convinced. They boycotted the hair cut ceremonies of widows. The upper caste communities got infuriated with Savitribai due to the step taken by the barbers.

There were a large number of widows in the Pune City and the nearby villages during days. Adolescents and young girls were happened to more among in the widows. These widows were boycotted publicly and with meger financial support they were clandestine subjects to sexual exploitation. They happened to be pregnant due to lack of contraceptives or other measures. So they had to be victimized for the reason for which they had not been responsible. Women had to lose their life due to unhealthy ways of abortion. Many newborns were been killed after delivery by widows to avoid social ostracism. Many a times they had to leave their home.

On 28 January 1853 Savitribai started a shelter for such women – infanticide prohibition home – the first of its kind in India. In this shelter widows could give birth to their children and leave them there. Sixty six women gave birth to their children in that shelter upto 1873.This was a great historical work that Savitribai did at that time – in the dark ages. Later on this shelter started working as a hospital. Savitribai did not remain as one who served to widows but she went further in this regard. She adopted a child from a Brahmin widow (Kashibai) and thereby gave a message to the progressive people of the society. This adopted child was named Yashwant Rao who later became a doctor.

Savitribai Phule

Savitribai Phule

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