5.2 million

Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-49


2018 population growth rate


Estimated prevalence among girls and women aged 15-19


Type practised

The most widely practised forms of female genital cutting (FGC) in Eritrea are Type I and Type III.


FGC in Eritrea is often practiced on infants. Almost half of women aged 15-49 (47%) underwent FGC before they reached one year. 11% of them underwent FGC between the ages of one and four years.



Traditional practitioners and birth attendants performed FGC in 92% of cases.


Legal status

Illegal. An anti-FGC law has been in place since 2007.


National progress

  • 2005 – Anti-FGC committees at the regional and local levels were established as coordination mechanisms
  • 2007 – FGC was made illegal
  • 2007 – Eritrean government introduced a budget line to support interventions on FGC
  • 2012 – FGC was integrated into Ministry of Health
  • 2017 – National coordination mechanism was established for the steering and technical coordination committee

UN programme

The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGC is active in Eritrea. They report that attitudes to FGC are steadily changing. From 2002 to 2010, the proportion of women aged 15-49 who felt FGC should be abandoned increased by approximately 69%.

In the second phase of this programme (2014-2017), 291 communities made public declarations of FGC abandonment involving more than 480,000 individuals.


Information on the enforcement of anti-FGC law is limited.  While numerous cases may have reached court, the conviction rate is relatively low.

Source: 28 Too Many

Human Development Index ranking

179 in 2018 index, based on 2017 data.

Infant mortality rate

34 deaths per 1,000 live births (2015).

Source: 28 Too Many

Maternal mortality rate

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

Source: 28 Too Many

Trends in FGC prevalence

FGC in Eritrea is changing. UN data show 69% of girls aged 15-19 have been cut compared to 93% of women aged 45-49.


Prevalence breakdown

By region

Prevalence of FGC in Eritrea is inversely correlated to increasing levels of education and wealth. The central north regions have the highest prevalence rates: Semenawi Keih Bahri (95.4% of women aged 15-49) and Anseba (95.9%).

Source: UNICEF, based on Health Issues Survey 2015, UNFPA-UNICEF

Practising ethnic groups

Hedarib, Nara, Tigre, Bilen, Afar, Saho, Kunama, Tigrigna, Tigray