18/05/2018 15:46 SAST | Updated 18/05/2018 15:46 SAST

Human Libraries Address Taboo Topics

The "books" are everyday people willing to answer tough questions.

PA Archive/ PA Images
(Left to right) Human Library "books" Admir Ismanovski, the Gypsy book; Esther Lemons, the Pansexual book; and Muffe Vulnuz, the Extreme Body Modified book, at Heineken & Otilde's Open Your World campaign launch.

This week has seen Johannesburg hosting the Human Library. It's an event where real people are on loan to readers in place of books.

This means those who attend can ask any questions of the participants or "books", even uncomfortable ones.

The idea was first implemented in Copenhagen in 2000 to "discuss and challenge stereotypes and prejudices".

The idea is to create a safe space for stories to unfold, allowing people to explore the "titles", which range from social status to sexuality, health to trauma and loss, and religion to politics.

The titles in Johannesburg included:

  • I Am Not My Prison Sentence or Tattoos (It takes a community to change a broken story into one of hope and redemption);
  • Polygamy, Infertility and Embryo Killing (Difficult questions about available life creation options and choices I made);
  • Abusing the Abuser (The impact staying in an abusive relationship had on both me and my children); and
  • The Forgotten 44% (Stories of a male survivor of sexual abuse)

Sessions start in Cape Town this coming week.