There are approximately 250,000 people living in Colombia who identify as Embera-Chami, the only group known to have practised female genital cutting (FGC).

2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


There has been no national study of FGC conducted in Colombia.

Type practised

Type I and II forms of FGC have been reported among the Embera-Chami tribe.


FGC is thought to typically be carried out within the first couple of weeks after birth.

Legal status


National progress

  • 2007 – Colombian national attention brought to the issue of FGC after death of a 15-day old baby girl from the Embera-Chami tribe
  • 2007 – Legal case brought to judiciary after a doctor discovered three 17-day old girls had been cut. Judge Marino de Jesús Arcila Alzate stated that FGC is a “violation of girls’ and women’s rights” but did not initiate a criminal investigation because he determined there was no evidence of criminal intent. However, he urged the President of Colombia to develop a legal tool to support an end to the practice
  • 2007/8 – Creation of Embera Wera (Embera Women) movement to support community-led change on FGC
  • 2007 – Colombian authorities and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) worked with Embera communities to support abandonment of FGC
  • 2010 – Leaders representing 25,000 Emberas living in two indigenous reserves in Risaralda province vowed to stop FGC in their communities
  • 2012 – Embera tribe decided to sign agreement to ban FGC procedures

Human Development Index ranking

90 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

13.1 deaths per 1,000 live births (2016).

Maternal mortality rate

64 deaths per 100,000 live births (2015).

Source: Human Development Index

Trends in FGC prevalence

Research carried out by the Embera-Chami tribe with support from the UN, found that FGC is not indigenous to Colombia, but had been brought over during Spanish colonial rule.

The Embera-Chami, which is the only group known to practice FGC in Colombia, publicly committed to ending FGC in 2012.

Prevalence rates are unknown, however the tribe leaders committed to total abandonment by 2030.

Practising ethnic groups