Martha and Mary, characters in 'Roadkill'. ©

photo by Tim Morozzo

In 2013, the British Council supported the touring production of 'Roadkill' in the United States, and organized a public policy program to discuss the issue of sex-trafficking.

Cora Bissett’s critically-acclaimed play, 'Roadkill', was the first production in Edinburgh Fringe Festival history to win every major theatre award in 2010. Roadkill is based on a real-life encounter with a young woman who has been trafficked from Nigeria to the US and forced into prostitution. Staged in a seemingly normal apartment, the site-specific nature of the work places the audience in the young woman’s world, as they witness in close quarters how her hopes of a new life are turned into violent scenes of brutality and captivity. 

The US premiere of this work toured in Chicago and New York City, showing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre from May 11 to 28, 2013; and at St Ann's Warehouse in New York City from June 4 to 30, 2013. We organized a showing of 'Roadkill' for professionals from the legal and law enforcement fields, including the NYPD and FBI, and the corrections sector in New York City. By seeing the harsh realities dramatized in this performance, this select group were able to intellectually and emotionally connect with the social injustice it exposed, and share their experience of this piece with their peers.

'Roadkill' Public Policy Program on sex trafficking

The British Council organized a public program to complement the US tour of 'Roadkill', to increase public awareness of the issue of sex-trafficking. Through a series of public discussions with leading experts, we reached new audiences, enabled important policy dialogue, and created a project legacy through digital and print publications to enrich the experience of seeing the play. The program was delivered by British Council in partnership with the presenting theatres, universities, advocacy groups, government and law enforcement. 

Current approaches to ending sex trafficking: from the local, national, and global front lines at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, May 2, 2013

The British Council co-hosted a conversation with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, live-streamed to an international audience. Three panelists addressed critical issues and cultural trends within the local, national and global spheres as they pertain to the sex trafficking epidemic. The panel examined how the three spheres intersect and disconnect, as well as current initiatives and challenges they face on their respective fronts. 

The conversation was moderated by defence attorney Sara Elizabeth Dill, who specializes in immigration, criminal and sex trafficking cases. Panelists included Leif Coorlim, executive editor of the CNN Freedom Project; Veronica Zeitlin, counter-trafficking and gender advisor in the human rights team bureau of democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance at the US Agency for International Development; Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE); and Ruth Lewa, country director of Solidarity with Women In Distress (SOLWODI) in Kenya.


'What can I do?' How one person’s commitment can combat sex trafficking, at New York University, Grand Hall at the Kimmel Center, June 11, 2013

The panelists in this discussion had all answered the call to action by advocates and victims worldwide, and were making a difference by leveraging their resources and skills. They discussed a variety of approaches using art, community organization, and social networks to raise awareness and build critical mass. 
Held at St. Ann’s Warehouse, the conversation was introduced by our country director Paul Smith, and included the playwright and director of 'Roadkill', Cora Bissett; Norma Ramos, executive director of the NY Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; and Avaloy Lanning, senior director of the Anti-Trafficking Program, Safe Horizon, and member of the steering committee of Freedom Network.

Criminal or victim? An inside look at the cases and faces of sex trafficking in New York, at the New York Foundation for the Arts, June 25, 2013

This discussion gave an insider's view of the NYC courts, prosecutors, and legal professionals who handle individual cases of victims of sex trafficking who have been apprehended, and the johns fueling demand. It was a conversation between Kate Mogulescu, supervising attorney, Trafficking Victims Advocacy Project, the Legal Aid Society; and Debra Brown Steinberg, chair of the editorial board of VS: Confronting Modern Slavery in America.


Human trafficking, social justice and international law, at NYU Law, Greenberg Lounge, on September 26, 2013

By partnering with NYU Law, we convened a dynamic panel to discuss the public and private sectors’ response to human trafficking.  We began the discussion with an overview on public awareness of this issue and how grassroots lobbying catalysed public and private sector anti-trafficking initiatives. A panelist from the American Bar Association shed light on how far the US state and federal laws have evolved to deal with human and sex-trafficking, and an advocate from Restore NYC spoke about issues such as victim’s rights, safety, and how trafficked victims are being reintegrated into society.  By debating new concepts like measuring a person’s, a company’s or a society’s 'slavery footprint', we examined how anti-trafficking awareness is gaining momentum. 

The conversation was hosted by Anne Milgram, senior fellow at the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at NYU Law and former attorney general of New Jersey. The panelists were Vivian Huelgo, American Bar Association Task Force on Human Trafficking; Jimmy Lee, executive director of RestoreNYC; and Dawn Conway, board member of the global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT) and senior vice president at Cision US.


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