Ida Bagus Putu Alit, 40, from Karangasem, has led the forensic medicine department at Sanglah Hospital since last year and is the head of a team that handles women and child protection. He shared his day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
The first thing I think of when I wake up at six in the morning is my two children. I get out of bed to wake them up and then take a shower. My wife prepares my children’s school uniforms and I help them to get ready for school. I then start thinking about my programme for the day and I have breakfast at seven.

I don’t have a lot of time for breakfast as my children’s school starts at 7.30 and I need to take them. So I spend 10 or 15 minutes eating nasi goreng and I drink Nescafe coffee with milk and sugar, not too sweet. I drive my kids to school and get to the hospital at eight. The first thing I do when I arrive is call the department’s secretary and plan the material we need and our budget.

We have three services at the forensic department: forensic pathology, education for medical students and research. I cover the first two.  Dealing with dead bodies is not something that’s daunting. Every day I have to make decisions about the cause of deaths. Death may have happened by suicide, homicide or it could be accidental, so I have to reject different causes to reach a conclusion. My decisions give information to family and to society so they know why someone has passed away.

But forensic medicine doesn’t only deal with dead bodies; it’s also for people who are alive. I deal with a lot of women who are victims of domestic violence and with children who have been abused. One of the reasons I decided to work in forensic medicine was because I wanted to improve it here in Bali.

Before, forensics only dealt with dead bodies. I wanted to establish clinical forensic medicine because it deals with sexual assault and abuse. It was originally developed in England, almost two decades ago, and after I entered forensic medicine in 2000, I started it in Bali five years later. Child abuse is what attracted my interest the most, partly because of personal reasons. After I got married, we didn’t have a child for a long time. So I wanted to protect other children, particularly from child abuse. Curiously, when I implemented clinical forensic medicine in 2005, my first child was born, 10 years after I got married.

I deal with quite a few cases of domestic violence. Women normally come directly to me but many are scared because they’re influenced by their culture. Women will forgive their husbands after they have been beaten; it’s a complex issue. If they are brought by police, we examine them directly, document the injuries and after that make a report. If they come alone, we examine them and also ask a psychologist to give them support.

Domestic violence is like Pandora’s Box: it’s very hard to enter and once you do there are many traps. It’s hard to get into because it occurs in a private place and because the relationship between victim and perpetuator is very close, it’s hard to do something about it. Domestic violence happens because the man feels superior and this has to do with our culture. We have to intervene to change this frame of mind and educate people. I’m the chief of a team that handles women and child protection. We help them if they have been victims of violence. We visit their homes and try to talk with their husbands. It’s not easy; sometimes the husband will not let us in. We have a social support programme for the patient and we talk with the family. In Bali we have a family culture and we try to communicate with them. But it’s something very personal and it’s hard for us to make a change.

I go home for lunch at 1pm. I have about an hour so I have to be quick. When I come back to work I might have to lecture at the medical faculty. I teach forensic medicine every day at a different time, depending on the programme, and then I go home at 4 or 5.

I like to spend time with my kids. I teach them how to read and write. When I have time we take a walk around ricefields and we go to the village where I was born, in Karangasem regency, because I love the nature around that area. Painting is one of my favourite hobbies. I’m interested in Surrealism because it’s a different way of seeing things. So whenever I feel inspired, whether it’s six in the evening or two in the morning, I will paint with pastels. I never sell my paintings; they’re just for me to keep.

Dinner is at 7pm. We always have Balinese food at home. I then take some time to prepare the programme for the next day. Before I go to sleep I enjoy reading about other religions. I find it interesting and it gives me peace. It’s a great way of saying goodbye to the day, which ends at midnight for me.

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