SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry on Monday launched an advisory panel on gender equality in the military following a series of sexual abuse scandals involving senior uniformed officers.

The 15-member panel, including nine civilian experts, held its first session at the ministry's building in central Seoul. The panel includes Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk and Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung.

"The defense ministry will work to help remove unreasonable discrimination against female soldiers and foster an environment under which both male and female soldiers can show their capabilities under the same conditions," the ministry said in a press release.

The panel will convene a regular session each quarter to discuss ways to address gender discrimination and eradicate sexual violence, officials said.

A recent spate of sexual abuse cases has eroded public trust and troop morale. Defense Minister Song Young-moo has vowed to stamp out such cases, saying "rooting out sexual violence by those in power is a new task of our times."

Source: Yonhap News Agency