The month of April is designated as Sexual Assault and Awareness Month. On the February 25 edition of the WSBS 'Let's Talk,' program we spoke with Berkshire County District Attorney, Andrea Harrington. Regarding sexual assault, domestic and sexual violence, Harrington talked about sexual harassment and violence against women on the street level and how harassment often begins at an early age particularly on the middle school level.

In present day, Harrington’s office is seeing instances and receiving reports of online sexual harassment in particular where boys will pressure girls into sending photos that are inappropriate (sexting), pornographic and illegal. As a tool to combat against these acts and violence toward women in general, Harrington’s office along with the Domestic Sexual Taskforce are hosting a book read. Harrington believes that it’s helpful for the community to have a particular project to organize around. She informed us that a book read is a great organizing tool as people can share information, have the same language and spark discussion.

According to a media release from the Berkshire DA's office, the task force is spotlighting activist-artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, author of 'Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We’re Taking Back Our Power. Fazlalizadeh’s book will be the focus of the second annual 'One Book, One Community' read, which will have the participation of two dozen local groups and organizations.

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Throughout the month, Fazlalizadeh's portraits (which you can view below) will be on display outdoors around Park Square in Pittsfield; on the lawn of City Hall in North Adams; and at the intersection of Routes 7, 41, and 23 and in front of Town Hall in Great Barrington. (the signs will be displayed in Great Barrington from April 11-24). Her artwork, black and white pencil sketches featuring captions from women who have experienced street harassment, includes titles such as “My Name is Not Baby,” “Let Women Walk in Peace,” “I am not your Geisha, China Doll, Asian Fetish,” and “Women are Not Outside for Your Entertainment.'

At the end of the month, on Thursday, Apr. 29, Fazlalizadeh will discuss her work in a webinar that is free and open to the public. Following Fazlalizadeh’s slideshow presentation, there will be an opportunity for questions. The webinar, which will be held from 7:00-8:30 p.m., will feature closed captions, ASL interpretation, and simultaneous Spanish interpretation.

During the "Let's Talk' interview Harrington mentioned that people can get more information about the initiative and the book read by going to the Berkshire District Attorney's Facebook page, the Domestic Sexual Task Force's Facebook page, contacting Sue Birns, the chair of the task force committee, by emailing susan.birns@mcla.edu and folks can also call the Berkshire District Attorney's Office at (413) 443-5951, Ext. 223. You can get complete details and register for the April 29 webinar by going here.

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