Turkey child sex law
A woman cries next to another holding a sign reading 'We will not forgive child rapists' during a demonstration against a proposed bill in Istanbul, Turkey Yasin Akgul/ AFP

After a huge public backlash, Turkey has finally withdrawn a controversial bill that would have overturned men's sentences for child-sex assault if they had married their victims.

The Prime Minister Binali Yildrim announced the withdrawal on Tuesday (22 November) just before the bill was about to go for a final vote in parliament.

Many critics were of the opinion that the bill if passed would have legitimised statutory rape. It would have encouraged the practice of taking child brides eventually, they said.

However, the government's stand was that the bill was not meant to forgive rapists but intended to address the issue of underage marriage. The bill would have allowed the release of men, who assaulted a minor "without force, threat or trick ", and later married the victim with her or her family's consent.

It reportedly applied to men who had inappropriate sexual relations with girls under the age of 18.

It is illegal in Turkey for people under the age of 18 to get married but it is reportedly practiced in parts of the country.

About 3,000 demonstrators marched in Istanbul to protest against the bill on Saturday as they clapped and chanted, "We will not shut up. We will not obey. Withdraw the bill immediately!"

"A rape can't be justified. What does it mean to ask a child if they're OK? Until they're 18, a child remains a child, that is why this has to be condemned. We are here so that this law can't pass," a protester named Fadik Temizyurek told the BBC.