Information on military service for women and Christians in the Sudan People's Defense Forces (SPDF) [SDN12311]

According to a researcher at the York Centre for Refugee Studies in Toronto, it is unlikely that women would be drafted in the Sudan People's Defense Forces (SPDF) especially since the government is controlled by fundamentalist Muslims (4 Jan. 1992). The researcher added that there is an organization in the Sudan Secret Services called Muslim Sisters (Ibid.). The duties of this organization of devoted muslim women is to provide the Sudan Secret Services with information on a variety of events and subjects like the obligation for women to wear the tchador (Ibid.). The researcher further reported that Christian soldiers are under tight surveillance by their superiors (Ibid.).

According to a professor at the University of New Hampshire and who is well-versed on Sudanese affairs, women are not allowed into the Sudanese regular army (4 Jan. 1992). The professor reported that there is a new Islamic paramilitary organization called the People's Popular Militia (Ibid.). This organization is used as a vehicle for ideological and military training by the National Islamic Front which now controls the central government (Ibid.). Although the professor is unable to say whether women are forced to enter this militia, he stated that women participate in it (Ibid.). The duties of women in the People's Popular Militia are similar to men's (i.e., military and ideological training in order to defend the National Islamic Front) (Ibid.). The professor added that this militia was also created to counter-balance the regular army (Ibid.). When women members of the People's Popular Militia are pregnant, the professor speculated, they probably suspend their training until after the birth of their babies (Ibid.). Legally there is no difference between Christian and Muslim soldiers in the regular army (Ibid.). In practice there are few high commanding Christian officers today (Ibid.). Since the coup against Nemeiry in 1985, the number of Christian officers in the army has decreased significantly, and a number of them are now with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south (Ibid.). Christian soldiers who remain in the army are subjected to tighter surveillance than Muslim soldiers (Ibid.).

For further information on the above-mentioned subject please find the attached documents.


University of New Hampshire, Durham. 4 January 1992. Telephone Interview with Professor.

York Centre for Refugee Studies, Toronto. 4 January 1992. Telephone Interview with Researcher.


BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 5 March 1992. "Unit of Volunteers Reportedly Heading South to Fight SPLA." (NEXIS)

_____. 28 September 1992. Egyptian Agency Reports Opposition Comments on Dismissal of Army Officers." (NEXIS)

_____. 26 October 1991. "Sudan SPLA Radio Says Army Purge Continues." (NEXIS)

The Independent. 12 March 1992. Richard Dowden. "Sudan Steps Up War on Rebels with Iran's Help." (NEXIS)