Postgraduate Profiles

Salina Hisham

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Thesis: Malaysian Standards for Forensic Age Estimation: Formulation and Validation based on the analyses of Multi Detector Computed Tomographic Images

Forensic anthropology is the application of anthropological method and theory to matters of legal concern. When the victim and/or suspect are unknown, a biological profile needs to be developed to narrow searches of known missing persons. This profile includes age, sex, ancestry, and stature. In predicting these key indicators of identity, traditional reference standards based on the skeletal analysis of large documented human skeletal collections are generally utilised. However, it has been empirically demonstrated that these standards are population specific. Population specific forensic standards are currently not available for Malaysians due to a lack of human skeletal collections with documented age, sex, ancestry, and stature. Therefore, this study will correct existing knowledge and professional shortfalls by establishing population specific standards for age estimation. This research will thus contribute much needed standards for Malaysian forensic practitioners.

Why my research is important

The primary significance of this research is its potential to contribute to population specific standards for the Malaysian population. It is important to identify a deceased person firstly for the dignity for the deceased; and secondly to provide closure for the bereaved. It is mainly performed for the purpose of satisfying the basic human right of an individual to be properly identified before legal disposal. It is also conducted to ensure that the needs of surviving relatives are satisfied and to allow them to properly inter the body according to their religious or cultural practices.

Identification is also important to assist a police investigation involving a suspicious death, or one that is ruled as a homicide. In criminal courts, identification is essential in cases such as persons accused of assault, rape, murder (amongst others). The contribution of forensic anthropology is also extremely important in disaster victim identification when skeletal fragmentation and commingling has occurred, such as during the South-East Asian tsunami and the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) disaster.


Feb 2016