Open Letter to Members of the Initiative: "Protection and Respect for Sex Workers"

Open Letter to Members of the Initiative:

Dear member organisations of the initiative "Protection and Respect for Sex Workers",

As you know, a symposium of the initiative "Protection and Respect For Sex Workers" took place on May 12, 2023 in Berlin.

In this context, the sex worker and activist Ruby Rebelde was invited as an expert to give a lecture on the topic "6 years ProstSchG, sexworkphobia and anti-genderism". In this lecture, Ruby Rebelde presented narratives of sex work opponents who speak of a “prostitution lobby/pimp lobby” and interpretated these narratives as structural antisemitic conspiracy narratives. Ruby Rebelde referenced scientifically based research findings.

The term "prostitution lobby" or “pimp lobby” refers not only to sex work activists but also professional counselling centers such as Hydra or members of BufaS e.V., which have been offering professional counselling and social work for sex workers for decades.

The organisation Sisters e.V. was present at this symposium. This organisation, which repeatedly uses this “lobby” argument and demands client criminalisation in Germany, took Ruby Rebelde’s presentation as an opportunity to take legal action against Ruby Rebelde - specifically in the form of a cease and desist order with the threat of a libel suit for damage to reputation and defamation.

After this and similar organisations defaming the reputation of human rights activists, experts and social workers in the field of sex work for years, it is a clear case of victim blaming to press charges against a sex worker who speaks out against this.

Experts in specialist counseling centers, self-organised sex work collectives and cooperatives are demanding better working conditions, migration rights and a reduction in discrimination. They do this in the awareness of similarities and differences in the field of sex work. To speak here of a conspiracy “in favor of prostitution” is absurd.

On July 13, a Court in Berlin has convicted Ruby Rebelde in the first instance by a judge to refrain from certain statements about the association Sisters. This is a fatal decision, because it continues the trend to silence activists (mostly private individuals) via civil suits. This is strategic litigation against freedom of expression.

It is therefore all the more important that organisations and associations publicly support Ruby Rebelde, show solidarity and provide concrete support. We regards it as extremely problematic that you, as the organisation responsible for this specialist day, have not yet publicly commented on what has happened.

We urge you to do this as soon as possible, so that your member organisations, which stand up for the rights and against the discrimination of sex workers, actually protect sex workers.

As a result of the verdict, Ruby Rebelde has suffered monetary losses. There are also legal fees and costs to defend against the SLAPP. Therefore, we call you as to support Ruby Rebelde in the compensate for the disadvantages.

In addition to a public statement, it could be expected to share and support Ruby Rebelde's call for donations/fundraiser.

Furthermore, it is essential to develop concepts to protect sex workers  from anti-sex work groups and such civil suits in the future.

Last but not least, we demand a public demarcation of Diakonie Germany, the regional diakonies, and diaconal organizations from positions and organizations hostile to sex work in their own ranks. The social work profession is subject to non-negotiable basic principles, without which ethical and professional social work cannot take place. In addition to an accepting attitude, partiality and openness of the counseling process, this also includes counteracting discrimination and preventing stigmatisation and social inequalities. Professional counseling centers that demand the criminalisation of clients, cooperation partners and/or sex workers explicitly oppose the basic principles of social work.

It can be assumed that these basic principles has also led to the name of your initiative. We would therefore urge you to take the slogan "Protection and Respect for Sex Workers" seriously and to take responsibility for the negative consequences that a sex worker has suffered as a result of the event you initiated.

We link Ruby Rebelde's statements about the SLAPP and the role of your "Initiative Protection and Respect for Sex Workers" below:



European Sex Workers' Rights Alliance

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