Europe

Turkey withdraws child marriage bill, submits it for review

  • Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placard reads: " No to exploitation of children." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placard reads: " No to exploitation of children." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

  • Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placards read: " No to exploitation of children " and " The rape cannot be legalized." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placards read: " No to exploitation of children " and " The rape cannot be legalized." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

  • Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placard reads: " We refuse irrational and immoral law project." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

    Thousands of members of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party march to the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. Following a public outcry, Turkey's government has withdrawn a proposal that critics said would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims. The placard reads: " We refuse irrational and immoral law project." (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)  (The Associated Press)

Turkey's prime minister says his government is withdrawing a proposal that critics say would legitimize child marriages and will instead submit it for review by a parliamentary committee.

The proposal, which was scheduled to undergo a final vote on Tuesday despite a public outcry, would have deferred sentencing or punishment for sexual assault in cases where there was no physical force and where the victim and perpetrator were married.

The age of consent in Turkey is 18, although courts permit civil marriages for people as young as 16. Many younger people are married in Islamic ceremonies.

Binali Yildirim told reporters the government would ask an all-party commission to review the proposal.

Critics said the bill would have pardoned statutory rape and reversed efforts to combat sexual abuse and child marriages.