The world marked the International Day of Women and Girls in sciences yesterday. We celebrate Dr Kizzie Shako, a forensic physician using her skills to help victims of domestic abuse
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Who is Dr Kizzie Shako?
I am a forensic medical practitioner, working for the Ministry of Health, Forensic and Pathology Services seconded to the police surgery as a police surgeon. A Police surgeon is also known as a forensic physician.
I am the founder of Vunjakimya. My passion is to provide the best services to victims of violence and to bring a positive change in our nation regarding forensic management of victims.
What is Vunjakimya?
This is an online platform that addresses the medico-legal matters affecting issues regarding all forms of physical and sexual violence in the society. We focus more on child protection and we speak about the stigma affecting victims of violence. The platform encourages rape victims, victims of domestic violence, both male and female, to speak out and break the silence because silence breeds violence.
What motivated you to start such a platform?
In my line of work after attending to several horrific cases, I reached out to a few media personalities and journalists, but I didn’t get far with this. I decided to start a blog and website that addresses these issues and the feedback is so far positive.
Last month you received an award, tell us more about it?
I was honoured to receive the upcoming Human Right Defender of the year (2017) by the National Coalition of Human Rights defenders. The award is given to individuals who fight for the rights of the voiceless, vulnerable and injured by alerting the relevant authorities to intervene in cases presenting barriers to justice.
Apart from the blog, what else do you do to accomplish this?
I have also initiated an online platform that responds to distress calls particularly involving children who have been physically and sexually abused or children at risk of the same.
How many victims have you helped so far?
Countless. I honestly cannot count. Every week there is at least two distress calls or consultations that come my way. Apart from attending to victims by examining them and documenting on P3, I also refer them to the relevant professionals for more help.
What are some of the challenges victims of abuse go through?
Victims face stigma, especially women. There is ignorance about several aspects of medico-legal and forensic principles in the community and courts, which means they are either omitted or misinterpreted and this compromises cases. Sometimes those affected suffer from victim fatigue and are tempted to give up.
How has your journey been?
Working in a resource-poor setting in a male-dominated field, in a patriarchal society, as a pioneer in clinical forensic medicine at a relatively young age, has proved to be nothing short of an uphill task. Many times I consider quitting. However, I am not a quitter, but rather a fighter. The harder I work at it, the more like-minded people I meet who support and encourage me to keep going.
What do you think needs to be done to help the victims?
There are so many things which need to be done such as harmonisation of stakeholders to create timely, efficient services, training of all professionals involved in the management of victims of violence, provision of one-stop multi-sectoral facilities across the nation to reduce turnover time and provision of a safe space for victims/survivors to air their issues and seek help.