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Pinocchio on trial: Who is guilty?

27 Jun 2019
Pinocchio on trial: Who is guilty?

By Patrizia Faustini

Pinocchio is sitting at the defendant’s seat with his lawyer, when the judges enter the hall. On one side the prosecutor looks at him grimly, with the Cat and the Fox, Mangiafuoco, the puppet master, and the teacher next to him. On the other side, the father Geppetto, a poor woodcarver, and the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair, the fictitious mother who Pinocchio never had, wait for their turn in silence. All of them will tell about Pinocchio’s behavior - the good and the bad. Around the courtroom, the mood was grim as a trial was about to begin. The accusations against Pinocchio were serious: playing truant from school; lying; betraying the trust of those who loved him, being a slacker. At the prosecutor’s request the witnesses repeat, one by one, the same story: Pinocchio is an unruly, ungrateful and listless child, fully aware of his misdeeds, therefore he is guilty and punishable. Only his lawyer, with the Turquoise Fairy and Geppetto, defends Pinocchio, speaking loudly the language of love and care: he is just a child whose rights have been violated. And in a few seconds the accusers are turned into accused: "Parents, teachers and governments, as duty bearers, are called to help children and young people to enjoy their rights. But Pinocchio was abandoned by all of them!” the lawyer thunders. At the reading of the sentence, the judge is inflexible, ruling in the language of rights: “A child is always a child. Parents and every institution have the responsibility to ensure, within the limits of their possibilities and their financial means, all conditions necessary for the full development of a child, in the best interests of the child.” Pinocchio is not guilty! Nobody could have imagined - 30 years ago - to apply the principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to one of the most well-known children’s stories in the world: “The Adventures of Pinocchio",  about the famous animated puppet who, after going through a series of troubles, finally becomes a child.  
Pinocchio on Trial” occurred in the hall of the Italian Parliament on May 20, 2109, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the CRC, organized by the Italian Committee of UNICEF and the Chamber of Deputies Presidency. Students of a second-grade school and their teachers presented an exciting theater piece, sending a clear and strong message to the hall, full of authorities, children, and parents for the occasion: Pinocchio can only become a real child through the help of the adults who have the duty of protecting and caring for him. “Pinocchio on Trial" was the brainchild of Emilia Narciso, a member of the Italian UNICEF National Committee. In her story, Pinocchio becomes an allegory of the journey from childhood to adulthood in modern society, with its contradictions and difficulties in ensuring that every child has the future he/she is entitled to. Leaving the Parliamentary hall, each of us reflected: who is the Cat and the Fox today? Who is Mangiafuoco, or Lucignolo, the bad friend? Who is the Turquoise Fairy, Geppetto or the Talking Cricket? Everyone could relate because, as the Italian philosopher Benedetto Croce said: "Humanity is the wood in which Pinocchio is carved”.
Patrizia Faustini is Senior Communication Associate at UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti.