Could “Štraca” Bring Legal Problems to Cardinal Puljić?

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Probably not, but it would not be the first time that the word has featured in court proceedings.

When Cardinal Vinko Puljić, the leader of the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said on May 11, 2016 that women who have sexual relations with men before marriage could become a “štraca”, which is a word hard to translate but is never meant in a positive way, he not only caused a storm of criticism and mockery, as reported by TCN earlier today, but also might have brought himself a bit of legal trouble.

Five years ago, Večernji List published an article on a rather interesting trial. Oliver Dragojević, probably the most famous Croatian signer, found himself in a court because he allegedly insulted a woman who claimed that she was his mistress. Talking about the alleged affair, he said: “Štraca, a simple štraca!” The woman sued him because she considered it to be a personal insult.

However, Dragojević defended himself by claiming that, by saying “štraca”, he was not talking about the woman as a person, but about the whole alleged affair, “which is as old as an old rag – or ‘štraca’”, said Dragojević in the courtroom. The court even consulted the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics to define what a “štraca” really was. The Institute said that “štraca” can refer both to a person and a thing, but that its precise meaning was hard to define. Therefore, the court decided to rule in favour of the defendant and Dragojević was acquitted.

So, it would seem that the Cardinal is safe, particularly since later this afternoon he explained and apologized for his statement, sort of. “The statement was taken out of context. I did not intend to insult anyone, I just wanted to say that women must protect their dignity. I was a bit euphoric during my sermon, so I used too harsh a word”, said Puljić to, apologizing to everybody whose feelings were hurt.


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