Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Conviction of gang rape or rape of a minor or an invalid is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Conviction of sexual assault is punishable by six months to eight years in prison. The law does not specifically criminalize spousal rape. No information was available on the prevalence of rape, which citizens seldom reported to officials.
The COI reported sexual violence against women and girls was widespread in military training camps, the sexual violence by military personnel in camps and the army amounted to torture, and the forced domestic service of women and girls in training camps amounted to forced sexual slavery. In a March 2015 report, CEDAW expressed concern about reports that women in national service frequently were subjected to sexual violence, including rape.
Domestic violence is punishable as assault and battery. Domestic violence was commonplace, but such cases rarely were reported or brought to trial. Women usually refrained from openly discussing domestic violence because of societal pressures. Authorities rarely intervened, due to societal attitudes, a lack of trained personnel, and inadequate funding. Traditional authorities, families, or clergy more commonly addressed incidents of domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. According to the UN Children’s Fund, the prevalence of FGM/C was in decline. Health-care professionals and international organizations reported that the practice continued in several rural areas of the country. The 2010 Population and Health Survey found older cohorts had a higher prevalence of FGM/C than did younger cohorts. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) worked with the government and other organizations, including the National Union of Eritrean Women and the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, on a variety of education programs to discourage the practice.
Sexual Harassment: There is no specific law against sexual harassment. Cultural norms often prevented women from reporting such incidents. There was no record of any person ever being charged or prosecuted for sexual harassment.
Reproductive Rights: The unimplemented constitution provides men and women the legal right to found a family freely. Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, but they often lacked the information, means, and access to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Some girls and women married at an early age in order to avoid national service or being mobilized.
According to the World Health Organization, the maternal death rate was an estimated 501 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, and a woman had a lifetime risk of maternal death of one in 43 as of 2015. The high maternal death rate was likely due to factors including limited health-care services, particularly in rural areas, and adolescent pregnancy. The UN Population Division estimated in 2015 that 15.5 percent of girls and women between ages 15 and 49 used a modern method of contraception. The UNFPA reported that 25 percent of women ages 20-24 had given birth before age 18, based on the most recent data available from 2010. According to the 2010 Population and Health Survey, skilled health-care personnel attended 34 percent of births in the five years preceding the survey. Access to government-provided contraception, skilled health-care attendance during pregnancy and childbirth, prenatal care, essential obstetric care, and postpartum care was available, but women in remote regions sometimes did not seek or could not obtain the care they needed due to lack of spousal or family consent, transport, or awareness of availability.
Discrimination: Family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws provide men and women the same status and rights. The law requires equal pay for equal work. Nevertheless, the percentage of men with access to secondary and higher education, employment, economic resources, property, inheritance, agricultural services, internet connectivity, and other technology exceeded that of women, particularly in rural areas.