Hidden in Plain Sight

You know those trips or experiences or perhaps even a coffee date with a friend where you leave and you know your outlook on life will never be the same? That’s what happened when I went to Germany this past January.

Kev finished seminary at Beeson Divinity in December and his final requirement was to immerse himself in another culture. We knew some friends serving in Stuttgart, Germany — so to Germany we went! 

The first afternoon we walked around downtown to fight the jet lag and explore the city. After walking a bit we came to a place that finally caught my eye and that I wanted to photograph. As I was shuffling in my bag to look for my camera lens, our host explained that I may want to think twice about taking photos of that area. The building I was about to photograph was a brothel.

A brothel? How could that be a brothel? I thought brothels were in bad parts of town in undercover, run-down buildings? But what I was looking at was a beautiful building with a cobblestone walkway in the heart of downtown.

I think our friend could see the sour expression on my face so he began to share with us the sad reality that in Germany prostitution is legal. In fact, the brothel we were looking at was only one of about 300 registered brothels in Stuttgart.

If legalized prostitution is not saddening enough, it get’s worse. Many of the girls in these brothels have been trafficked from neighboring countries. They are either mislead, kidnapped or sold into prostitution by their families hoping to obtain a wage from them. They get ripped from their homeland and taken to a place where they don’t know anyone, they don’t know how to speak the language, and many times they don’t even know where they are. 

Though prostitution is legal and benefits (such as healthcare and retirement) are supposed to be offered to the girls, the ones who get trafficked don’t get registered by their pimps. That means they are working under the radar and are unable to receive the benefits. This is what many Germans do not realize. They think the girls in prostitution are there because they chose to be and are receiving benefits. This problem is hidden in plain sight. 

What can be done about this atrocity that is the buying, selling, trading, and exploitation of these women? 

Kainos is a ministry dedicated to caring for the women caught in prostitution in Stuttgart, Germany. Kainos means, “new life.” That’s exactly what Kainos seeks to extend to these women: the healing grace of Jesus Christ that brings new life. 

We spent an afternoon with some of the women who work at Kainos. We went with them to a brothel. They went inside to encourage and pray with the girls while we prayer walked around the outside of the brothel.

The most fascinating thing about the brothel to us was where it was located. It was sandwiched between suburbs and commercial car dealerships. There was a large flag that locals would know where to stop and red curtains covering the windows. My heart still breaks imaging those women nestled in the quarters feeling enslaved and hopeless. A women who works for Kainos told me how there are some brothel’s that have different floors. The lower levels are for women who are seen as less attractive and less desired. Men pay more money for the top levels. My heart and stomach are still in knots at the thought of women who are not only sold for sex but told which level of physical hierarchy they are. 

What can we do? 

We can pray. 

We can also support Kainos in the work they are doing by giving financially. They need funds to continue bringing healing and a future for these women and their families. That is why a percentage of everything I make through photography will go straight to Kainos

You can also learn more about them here!

xox, allison j naylor