By Samantha Anderson
Wendy Babcock, a law student and advocate for sex workers’ rights was found dead in her Toronto home on Tuesday. She was 32.
Babcock left an abusive home at age 10 and found herself involved in sex work at a young age. The first time she had sex was with a client for 75 dollars. With it, she paid for her high school semi-formal dress, she told McClung’s writer Daniela Germano in the Spring 2010 cover story on sex work.
It was the danger and stigma she was exposed to that started Babcock’s advocacy work. Babcock would often tell people about her own experiences, to explain both her struggles and her victories.
In 2009, she was accepted into the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School. She didn’t have the usual required academic credits and was one of ten students who was able to get in without them. Babcock was in her third year of the four year program. She wanted to change sex worker laws by becoming a lawyer.
Babcock started the Bad Date Coalition, an organization that provided a list of abusive clients and a hotline for people to call. She worked within harm reduction at Street Health. Babcock also helped with the launch of the Special Victims Unit with the Toronto Police Services, where four detectives would work explicitly to protect sex workers. In 2008, she was awarded the Public Health Champion Award from the City of Toronto.
Daniela Germano, who wrote about Babcock says she was passionate about the issues and would speak to anybody whether they came from a big publication or a small one.
Germano says that Babcock was a voice for all sex workers, from the more privileged to the underage workers to the victims of human trafficking. Babcock was honest and open about her life. “She didn’t seem like a person who ever hid anything,” Germano says. “I think that she will really be missed.”
Babcock’s friend Tanya Gulliver wrote a blog post commemorating Babcock’s work entitled RIP Wendy Babcock.