A 28-year-old man might be in trouble for putting his infant daughter up for sale on eBay.
According to German police, the man is a refugee living in the city of Duisberg with his family, reports The Associated Press.
The ad had a starting bid of the equivalent of $5,500, and it featured several photographs of the baby under the headline: “Child, 40 days old named Maria…for sale.”
The listing was removed by eBay authorities within 30 minutes of being listed. Had the father consulted eBay’s rules about “restricted items,” he would have seen the following notice: “We don't allow humans, the human body, or any human body parts or products to be listed on eBay, with the exception of items containing human scalp hair.”
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On Oct. 14, after the auction went viral on social media, the father turned himself in, admitting that he placed the ad, while claiming that it was just a joke. The decision whether or not to charge him with criminal activity is pending an investigation, according to officials.
Local politician Klaus Moennicks, who heads the Christian-Democratic Union of the Rhieinhausen district of Duisburg, thinks the father should be punished. “I am of the opinion that this must have legal consequences,” he said. “If the parents believe that they cannot provide the child with proper care, we have the possibility in Germany to give the child up for adoption or to give it to a foster family.”
A local youth services spokesperson said the baby is in good health, and is “currently housed in a nursing family, where she will remain until the whole situation is clarified. ... The parents are currently are currently under the watch of social services.”
The parents’ country of origin has not been identified, but Syria might be a likely bet. According to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, Syria is the world’s largest source country of refugees with a total refugee population of 4.9 million at the end 2015. Germany was the largest single recipient of new asylum applications, with the greatest percentage of them originating from Syria.
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The UN goes on to note that in the past few years, more people have been forced from their homes by war, conflict and persecution since World War II. By the end of 2015, 65.3 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide.