The Father of Katuturas Streetwakers - PhMuseum

The Father of Katuturas Streetwakers

Christian Bobst

2008 - Ongoing

Namibia

The 74-year-old priest dedicated his life to help the poorest of the poor. For over 20 years he stood up for sex workers who suffer from hunger, violence, illnesses and social proscription. Most of those women live in Katutura, the largest township of Windhoek, where Hermann started a day-care shelter with financial support from the church and private donors. There he has admitted more than 4700 women with 10000 children into his program. Since 2015, Father Hermann has been in need of intensive medical care. He lies in a Roman-Catholic hospital in Windhoek, where the women that he use to help now visit him faithfully when they can. The Catholic Church shows no interest in continuing Father Hermann´s work. The daycare facility was closed by members of the Catholic Church, following the bishop’s orders. The girls and women are left on their own again.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • In this short film Father Hermann Klein-Hitpass and the streetwalking girls tell their story. The 6 minutes movie is the starting point and the heart of this muktimedia documentation.

  • (2008) Whenever possible Father Hermann ventured out to Katutura, the township outside Windhoeck, to look after sole women who have to sell their bodies in order to have something to eat.

  • (2013) A group of girls at Damara 6 help doing each other’s hair. Sex workers in Katutura cannot count on the solidarity of their neighbors or relatives; they usually only get help from other girls who do the same work in order to survive.

  • (2008) Father Hermann Klein-Hitpass is always very welcome in the township. For many decades he stood up for the weakest members of society in Windhoek, but for the past 20 years his special focus has been on girls and women whose poverty forced them into sex work. Most of those women do not call him “Father” only because he is a priest – many say that he is like a real father to them.

  • (2008) Eunice, 17, was one of a group of young children who were mis-used by an expat from Europe. As a consequence, most of those girls had to deal with psychological problems, many of them got involved with prostitution and have infected themself with HIV.

  • (2013) Father Hermann comforts Hanna, 37, at her home in Damara 6, one of the roughest districts in Katutura. Hanna never knew her mother or her father, nor did she ever go to school, therefore she grew up on the streets. She became a sex worker at the age of 16. A few years ago, some Chinese men promised her a better life abroad and paid for her documents. Father Hermann convinced her not to go.

  • Priscilla talks about her life (1 minute)

  • (2013) More and more men seek very young children for sex, because they think that children do not have AIDS or that their HIV infections can be cured by sleeping with a virgin. Father Hermann says some of the most disappointing and hurtful cases are those where the parents force their children into sex work as means of survival – or just to buy alcohol.

  • (2008) Since 2005 Father Hermann was running a daycare facility, where he handed out milk powder to prevent small children from contracting HIV by their mothers from breastfeeding. Sex workers who registered with Hermann received a ration of food and second-hand clothing once per week. The bookkeeping of Father Hermann was always meticuluous. He knew exactly who got what and when.

  • (2008) At his daycare Father Hermann tries to comfort a woman who suffers from severe depression after losing her child. Many sex workers suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, especially when they are infected with AIDS or STDs. But many of these women are not victims only. They are used to the rough life on the streets.Some try to take advantage of the priest´s kindness, a fact that Father Hermann is well aware of.

  • (2008) The girls and women who come to Father Hermann´s daycare are hungry, usually they have to walk the streets to be able to buy food for themselves and their kids. At the daycare they receive food for free, so they can briefly recover from their daily distress.

  • (2013) Father Hermann exmines a x-ray of a young boy at the daycare facility. The boy´s mother worries about the health-state of her son an asks for Hermann´s advice. Many women come to the shelter to be examined by Father Hermann when they or their children feel sick. If necessary, Father Hermann admits them to a doctor or to a hospital to claim an appropriate medical treatment, which would not be granted if the women would go their on their own.

  • (2013) Eunice checks out second hand dresses at Father hermann´s shelter. For many years, Hermann distributed second hand cloths among the women at the shelter. "Proper cloths are very important to get a minimum of respect in this culture, so the women will always try to dress up as good as possible, even if they have nothing. I don´t want them to spend their money on clothes, when they have hungry children to feed at home." he says.

  • The former sister Inocentia Mbati helped Father Hermann for three years with the work at the daycare facility. Today she is a teacher. In the interview (2 minutes) Inocentia Mbati tells about her cooperation with Father Herrmann in the "Stand Together" daycare centre.

  • (2015) Girls are looking for clients on the street in the center of Windoeck. They risk to be attacked, raped or robbed in the streets. Men in Namibia have very little respect for sex workers, they regard them as inferior human beeings and even call them „the toilet pots“. Hence violence against sex workers is very common.

  • (2016) Like many other girls, Eunice is hooking up with clients at bars and clubs in the city or in the township of Katutura. She says that she sleeps where the sun sets and that a friend is looking after her children while she is at work.

  • Father Hermann visits a casino bar at Ausspannplatz in the city center of Windhoeck to talk to the women there. „When it‘s dark the ladies are wanted by many people, but during the day in parliament they want to burn them out.“ says Hermann in an interview with a local newspaper

  • (2016) Sunset at the city center of Namibias Capital Windhoeck. Before the independence Namibia was occupied by Soth Africa. Just like in Johannesburg or Cape Town, the center of the city looks modern. It counts many white residents, but also among the native black people a considerable number have become wealthy.

  • Two young girls wait for customers at Ausspannplatz, one of the street-walkers patches in the city center of Windhoeck. This area is not safe for the girls and women, especially not at nighttime. Sex workers can´t expect much protection from the police, because prostitution is illegal in Namibia. .

  • Samantha talks about her life (2.5 minutes).

  • (2013) Damara 6 is one of the roughest Quarters in Katutura. On weekends, most of the people get drunk and the children face a high risk of getting abused.

  • (2015) Cecilia and her two younger sisters Maria and Irene were sold by their mother at the age of 9, 10 and 11 years. At the age of 13 Cecilia´s younger sister Irene died when she was raped after an abortion. Cecilia and her sister Maria made a case and brought their mother to jail.

  • (2013) Father Hermann visits Alexia (left, with pink shirt) at her home in babylon, a district of Katutura. Alexia lives with four other women and their children, that way, they are able to protect themselves better from robbers and sexual assaults.

  • (2016) Alexia became pregnant by her father at the age of 13. At that time her mother was in hospital. She died one day after Alexia told her that she was expecting a baby from her father. The relatives blamed Alexia for killing her mother and chased her away from home. She survived on sex work for more then 10 years. Recently Alexia had a job as a chef, but lost it when she became pregnant again.

  • (2013) Young men hang out on a Sunday morning at Damara 6. By noon almost everyone is drunk. Women who live alone in the townships are at risk for being sexually assaulted by their neighbors or even by their relatives, especially when they are looked upon as prostitutes. Most of those abuses are conducted under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Alexia talks about her life (3 minutes).

  • (2013) Father Hermann walks to the homes of some of some women in Havanna, another district in Katutura, to see if they are ok. But he is so weakened by diabetes, athropie and high blood pressure, that he can sometimes hardly walk on his own.

  • (2015) In August 2015 he had to be hospitalised. Since then he is taken care for at the Roman Catholic Church in the city of Windhoeck.

  • (2015) The women Father Hermann took care for sometimes visit him at the hospital, but the priest is not able to help them anymore. When he says that he has no hope to ever be able to walk out of the hospital again, the women break out in tears.

  • (2015) Father Hermann says goodbye to Cecilia after she visited him in hospital together with her sister Maria and some other women.

  • (2016) Father Hermann dedicated his life and energy to the poorest of the poor. It makes him sad that he can´t help anymore and that no one at the church in Windhoeck is willing to continue his work. But he is not feeling bitter about it. At least he is at peace with himself, the things he did and the life he lived.

  • The eminent German Professor of political science, Dr. Heribert Weiland, from the Arnold Bergstraesser Institute in Freiburg im Breisgau had recommended Father Hermann for The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Professor Weiland came to know Father Hermann Klein-Hitpass while working as an Electoral Observer in Namibia. In the following interview (4 minutes), Professor Weiland explains what inspired Father Hermann to do his work and why he came into conflict with the Catholic Church.


Newsletter