Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Athletes’ ius primae noctis

Diane seems to have made the right prediction about the course of Kobe Bryant case. Mudslinging of the victim and race considerations already began.

But if Diane worries about justice being done, things on that front look significantly better in USA than in some other countries, including my own. In Croatia there is exactly zero chance of an athlete of Bryant’s stature being subjected to criminal procedure over such trivial issue like having sexual contact – consensual or not – with the members of opposite sex. If some poor Croatian girl indeed gets sexually harrased, raped, sodomised or any other way abused by some of Croatian top athletes, her chances of throwing the offender in jail are somewhere between slim and none. If she confides to anyone – friends, parents, priest, social worker, police, lawyer, journalists - the universal advice would be to forget it and get on with her life. If she files complaint, police would refuse to investigate and public prosecutors would refuse to prosecute. If by any chance things gets to court or media, poor girl would be subjected to death threats, media stories about each and every dark detail of her past and attempts to portray her as blackmailer, mentally unstable or pathological liar. Huge effort would be invested to prove that the poor girl had at least traces of Serbian, Muslim, British or Jewish ancestry in her blood.

The latter explains why Croatian athletes are above the law covering sexual crimes. Since this is the small country, and since there are few areas in which it excels, sportsmen are viewed as the most valuable members of Croatian society. From there to treating them like modern-day nobility is small step. This modern nobility, just like their medieval counterparts, are separated by average Croatian citizens not just by fame, wealth and luxury, but also by informal set of privileges. Some of those privileges involve rights similar to ius primae noctis of European feudal lords.


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