Clinical forensic medicine is a major branch of forensic medicine which, if developed, can significantly strengthen the rule of law in developing countries like ours. This field involves the medico-legal examination of the living to help the judiciary impart justice to the society as a whole.
Age estimation is an important aspect of clinical forensic medicine. The estimation of individual age is important in various civil and criminal lawsuits. In the context of Nepal, where mandatory and verifiable birth certification has not yet been implemented, age estimation of especially teenagers who have been accused of various offences and are under prosecution greatly helps the case to move forward in the courts.
The age of an accused is a factor that will determine the punishment that will be handed out by the court if the accused is found guilty of the offence he or she is being prosecuted for.
At this department, age estimation is carried out with the aid of general physical appearance, secondary sexual characteristics, dentition and the degree of appearance and fusion of the various centres of ossification viewed through x-rays.
The total number of cases that were brought for age estimation to the department in the three-year period from 2069 B.S to 2072 B.S was 245. Of these 245 cases, 158 were males (64.5 %) and 87 females (35.5 %).
Of the 158 male individuals, 65 had been accused of theft (41.1 %), 43 of sexual assault or attempt to sexually assault (27.2 %), 17 of drug trafficking (10.8 %), 14 of homicide or attempted homicide (8.8 %), and 12 of other crimes like creating public nuisances, being involved in fights, etc. (7.6 %). Six, of the 158, were brought as alleged victims of sexual assault (3.8 %) and 1 individual had been accused of kidnapping.
Of the 87 females, 71 were brought as alleged victims of sexual assault (81.6 %), 5 as victims of human trafficking (5.7 %), and 9 individuals, 3 each, respectively, were brought as the accused of a homicide (3.4 %) or an attempted
homicide (3.4 %), theft (3.4 %), and of other crimes such as creating social disorder (3.4 %). One individual (1.4 %) was brought accused of kidnapping and one (1.4 %) of drug trafficking.
The alleged age coincided with the reported age in 177 of the total 245 individuals whereas it was found different in the remaining 68 cases, out of which 47 were males and 21 females. The alleged age was different from the reported age in 29.7 % of males and 24.1 % of females.