The photograph of Wendy Babcock was taken at a fundraiser that friends, lovers, members of her chosen family and assorted admirers and supporters organized on her behalf.
Babcock, an Osgoode Hall student entering her third year, took the most unusual path imaginable to arrive at law school. She left home at a young age and, by 15, was a sex worker in Toronto — stopping in 2003 after the violent death of a colleague. She then turned to advocacy on behalf of sex workers, worked in harm reduction at Street Health and testified as part of veteran lawyer Alan Young's challenge of Canada's prostitution laws. Babcock attended George Brown before being accepted at Osgoode — one of only ten students in her year who did not hold a university degree.
She was found dead on Tuesday in an apparent suicide.
Babcock’s death is a tragedy on so many levels. [...]the example she set for marginalized people in general and teenage sex workers in particular was beyond inspiring, but she will not be around to witness the long-lasting impact of her accomplishments.
But this news is also a tragic blow to the Toronto legal community, which badly needs the experience and perspective of people like Babcock. From all indications, she was poised to be a formidable voice for people who are too often voiceless — in the justice system as well as the mainstream media.
More about Wendy's activism.