Country: Eritrea

Population: 6.3 million

Estimated prevalence among women aged 15-49:

88.7% & 1.2 million women cut age 15+

Data Source 15 – 49 (%) 15 - 19 45 - 49 Urban Rural Lowest Region Highest Region Nicked, no flesh removed Flesh removed Sewn closed Traditionally performed Medically performed National law
DHS 2002 88.7 78.3 95.0 86.4 90.5 81.5 97.7 46.0 4.1 38.6 92.2 0.6 Illegal

PRB 2014

Type practised:

The most widely practiced forms are Type I and Type III.

Legal status:

FGC was banned in Eritrea on 31st March 2007.

History of FGC in Eritrea:

The Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), which led the fight for independence from Italy and rose to government in 1991, has worked since 1988 towards the abandonment of FGC.

Current efforts to abandon FGC:

A multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary national strategy for FGC abandonment was finalised in 2006, involving the Ministry of Health, Education, Justice, Labour and Human Welfare and Information.

Community engagement, including religious leaders and male members of the community is also seen as key, as well as monitoring programmes to ensure that the law is enforced. The UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on FGC is active in Eritrea and work has led to 13,000 Eritrean people publicly abandoning FGC in 2011. To date, only 10% of boys and men believe FGC should continue, and only 12% of girls and women think it should continue, with 77% of these people citing no benefits as the reason for its abandonment.

The media is also contributing to the national discussion on FGC as 47% of women aged 15-49 make use of information media at least once a week. In 2011 several radio and television broadcasts covered Zero Tolerance Day and discussed the history of the practice and its harmful consequences.

Ongoing challenges:

Education is seen as a major barrier to the abandonment of FGC, as women who are illiterate have been the most resistant to change. This is partly explained by deference to customary practises and a belief that FGC is a religious requirement. FGC is often also a prerequisite for marriage. Many believe that FGC keeps girls from sexual misconduct and that abandonment would lead to girls ‘going astray’. There is also a misapprehension that girls who are not cut will be less fertile than those who undergo the practice.

Practising ethnic groups:











Tigrinya (official)

Arabic (official)

English (official)




Other Cushitic languages

Major religions:


Coptic Christian

Roman Catholic


In the news:

The Huffington Post - FGC survivor from Eritrea believes education is most important in changing people's beliefs about female genital cutting

EIN News – Eritrea holds seminar called ‘Women’s Empowerment and Development: the Eritrean Experience’

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