Neerja Bhanot, will always be remembered as the saviour of 360 lives on the Pan Am 73 flight. However, that’s not the only time she showed courage in face of adversity. The gutsy lady walked out of an abusive relationship which had devoid her of self-respect. She came out of it shining, holding her head high with a new dream of leaving her mark.

Having experienced such a gruesome reality that encouraged Neerja to save the people on the Pan Am flight which ended up taking her life.

Also: ‘She died so others might live’: 6 things to know about Neerja Bhanot on her birthday

We took this aspect of her life to the public, in the light of her birthday (September 7). Here is what people had to say about her.

SheThePeople.TV spoke to  some popular lawyers about how easy it was and still is for women in India to walk out of marriages.

Dr. Ahsan Rashid, Marriage Counselor and Supreme Court Lawyer says,Yes absolutely, there has been an elephantine change of scenario from where now a woman can also be instrumental in the eyes of justice for substantiating her strongly established will to get out of the marital bond. Since the legislations made during the year of 1955, the legislative provisions had always been supportive but unfortunately, that did reflect on papers.

Likewise Section 13(2) of Hindu Marriage Act,1955 which particularly deals with a wife’s presentation of petition for the dissolution of her marriage by a decree of divorce has rarely taken into consideration. Whereas the most of our views tend to budge towards the patriarchal norms of our society but given the looming age of women empowerment these days, we are glad to acknowledge it to be the most common prospect of our country’s legal system.”

Women are causing amends in our legislation in the form of stepping out of their solemnized marriages on the basis of their own terms.

Dr. Md. Salim, Director of Lloyd Law College says,First of all comparing the era of the 80s or 90s where women are merely treated as a living vulnerable entity of a mankind, today’s women are way more acknowledged and respected nationwide. And as per their marriage is a concern, it was quite evident that the rates of separation and divorce initially tended to be strongly influenced by son-preference only, and women who are mothers of only daughters (whether a single child or more) had a higher probability of marriage dissolution than those with even one son, women did hardly have a say in this matter. This tendency had been similar across different castes and religious communities, and across rural and urban locations.

But now we are in the middle of a very different state of our legal administrations. Today, women are causing amends in our legislations in the form of stepping out of their solemnized marriages on the basis of their own terms. Hence the ever sought transition of Indian legal system is finally on its rolling process.”

Also: 5 Reasons Why Women Stay In Abusive Marriages

Gone are the days when there was loads of dialectical contentions before allowing women to succeed her decree of marriage dissolution.

Dr Kavitha Chalakkal is an Assistant Professor of a Law College, and Supreme Court Lawyer. She says, “Yes, absolutely nowadays women are easily walking out of their marital bonds on their own terms. Gone are the days when there was loads of dialectical contentions before allowing women to succeed her decree of marriage dissolution. There has been reasoning behind this malfunctioning of our legal system. If you invest your perusal on Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, you can easily comprehend that IPC was totally scripted on patriarchal terms. But few amendments were brought forth which sort of hinted the new dawn of women empowerment in the legal system.”

We went to a cross-section of women asking their opinion too.

“What Neerja had done took immense courage. To leave an abusive marriage and walk on a different professional path to create a new strong personal self was extraordinary.”

Seema Singh, who is a homemaker feels education has been a big game changer. Now women are independent take bold steps without being slammed by the society. She says, “Being a decision-maker in the marriage is the luxury of only the educated and professionally sound wives. Others do not have this option and often get stuck in such difficult marriages and adjust. Education no more just a degree for her marriageable eligibility. It is a socially concealed weapon which can be put to use in case her dignity is tampered with.”

Deepti Gupta, wife of a designated Army Colonel, feels India can never be sensitive towards women. Therefore it becomes their responsibility to grab the baton of decision when encountered with such social situations. She says,“Fight and Abusive can never make a relationship successful. It is better to part ways and that is what Neerja did. Time and society can never change in India. Hence, women should have the guts to take their decisions and stand by them alone.”

Also: Tracking South Asian ‘Disposable Women’: Married and Abandoned in the UK

Asha Bhadoria, believes that not only walking out of a relationship but taking on a different career path makes Neerja an exemplary woman. “What Neerja had done took immense courage. To leave an abusive marriage and walk on a different professional path to create a new strong personal self was extraordinary.”

No marriage is perfect, all marriages need work. However, if a relationship is devoid of respect for the other, it is better to call quits. ”

Ritu Singh, a manager at an insurance company in Singapore says,  “Basis of a marriage is trust, love, mutual understanding and respect. No marriage is perfect, all marriages need work. However, if a relationship is devoid of respect for the other, it is better to call quits. There is no point in compromising your self-esteem and watching the marriage go south and fall along with it.”

We wish Neerja Bhanot a very Happy Birthday on her turning 54 this year, in our hearts.

Divyangna is an intern with SheThePeople.TV