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Friday, April 28, 2000

'I am not the victim here,' Greer says after attack

David Sapsted
The Daily Telegraph

LONDON - Germaine Greer admitted last night that ever since publication of her ground-breaking feminist tract The Female Eunuch there has been the "off-chance some nutter is going to pick me off."

Ms. Greer declared herself alive and well yesterday after being held captive in her home by a teenaged stalker on Monday.

But, without directly referring to the incident, the 61-year-old author criticized the people who should have been trying to help the 19-year-old student accused of attacking her.

The intruder was held at a psychiatric hospital for evaluation before her release on bail. Although she has been charged, officers familiar with the case say she is likely to be deemed unfit to stand trial.

Ms. Greer said that she sought help for the undergraduate after previous approaches, including one last weekend when the young woman turned up at her home and was ejected by police.

"I did not get the help from the responsible authorities that I deserved," Ms. Greer said outside her Georgian farmhouse.

"The police have been wonderful. It's everybody else in this case who has behaved like a bunch of idiots ... We did ask for the help of people who are supposed to be responsible."

Ms. Greer, an Australian-born writer, said every university teacher deals with vulnerable students facing stress and worry, but believes "the system was not there to look after them properly any more."

Ms. Greer said she did not worry about her own security after Monday's incident. The young woman, identified yesterday as Karen Burke of Nottingham, allegedly leapt from the bushes and forced Ms. Greer back into her home, assaulting her, breaking her glasses, and smashing ornaments in the house.

Ms. Greer said she felt apprehension rather than fear during the attack.

"I am not angry, I am not upset, I am not hurt. I am fine, I haven't lost my sense of humour, I am not the victim here," she said.

"Ever since I published The Female Eunuch, there's been an off-chance that some nutter is going to kick me off, judging by the hostility in the letters. I think I feel a bit like Caesar: the brave man dies once, the coward dies many times.

"I suppose I am a brave woman because I refuse to be afraid. I am not stepping up my security.

"I get letters from desperate people every day and we deal with them as we think fit. It is one of the penalties of being a public figure, which I don't particularly enjoy, but it is a responsibility."

Miss Burke, a first year student at Bath University, has been freed on bail on the condition she not travel within 25 kilometres of Ms. Greer's home. She is charged with unlawful imprisonment and causing bodily harm.

A friend of Miss Burke described her as being fascinated with Ms. Greer as a feminist icon, endlessly reading her books and attending her lectures.

Miss Burke is to appear in court next week.

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