08/10/2011 08:58 EDT | Updated 10/10/2011 05:12 EDT

Wendy Babcock, Sex Workers' Advocate, Dead


Wendy Babcock, a former teenage prostitute and dropout who later went on to attend law school and advocate for the rights of sex-trade workers, has died. She was 32.

Babcock was found dead in her Toronto home. Details of her death have not been released but police have said they do not suspect foul play.

Babcock became a sex-trade worker at the age of 15 but later turned her focus to advocacy. Charismatic and well-spoken, Babcock became well-known as a relentless, articulate advocate for sex workers.

From 2004 to 2007 she was a key member of Sex Professionals of Canada, an advocacy group promoting the rights of sex workers and the decriminalization of Canada's prostitution laws.

In 2009 she began to pursue a law degree at Osgoode Hall law school. Her hope was to use her degree to change laws affecting sex-trade workers.

Her journey was highlighted on the CBC show Connect with Mark Kelley. Babcock was awarded Toronto Public Health’s Champion award in 2008.

In an interview on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday, Tanya Gulliver, a friend of Babcock’s who teaches at Ryerson University, told host Matt Galloway that Babcock’s unlikely story inspired countless people.

'She accomplished so much'

Gulliver has written a tribute to Babcock on her blog.

“She accomplished so much more than I think people can ever dream of doing,” said Gulliver.

“She worked with Toronto police to enable sex-trade workers who’d been assaulted to be able to report their assaults without having any risk or fear of being judged for their profession or being faced with any charges.”

“Her goal was to fight for sex-trade workers and to change the laws,” said Gulliver. “Wendy didn’t want anyone else to go through what she went through. There are so many people that have been affected by her and the city has really lost out now.”

CORRECTION: There are conflicting reports about when Babcock died. An earlier version of this story said she died Wednesday. This version has been updated and the day removed.

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