WASHINGTON — A scathing report on women in the military released today charged the Navy and Marine Corps with "morally repugnant" sexual harassment and cited incidents of a ship commander's attempts to "sell" female sailors to Koreans.
The report to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger said the captain of the salvage ship Safeguard, Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Harvey, engaged in activities aboard ship that allegedly "included public sex" and "fraternization with enlisted female sailors."
During a recent tour of the western Pacific, the report said, Harvey attempted "to sell female sailors to the Koreans."
Harvey has been relieved of his command pending an investigation. The Safeguard, which is based in Pearl Harbor, has 18 women aboard among a crew of six officers and 84 sailors.
The Aug. 26 report by the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services was based on a tour of Navy and Marine Corps installations in Hawaii and the far Pacific between Aug. 4 and 18.
"In both services, the encouragement of a 'macho' male image contributes to behavior that is at best inappropriate and at worst morally repugnant," the report said.
It said the alleged incidents aboard the Safeguard were not surprising given the Navy's support for on-base activities such as parties during which there is a "liberal and routine public 'use' of Philippine females" at clubs for officers, noncommissioned officers and enlisted men.
Further, the report said, there were noon burlesque shows and "'dining-ins' that emphasize sexually oriented entertainment, with the alleged participation of audience members.
"The issue of moral acceptability aside, on-base activities such as these contribute to creating an environment in which all females are regarded with little or no respect and abusive behavior toward all women is not only passively accepted and condoned but encouraged," the report said.
Defense Secretary Weinberger responded to the study today by ordering a special task force to develop a plan for stamping out such discrimination throughout all four services.
The new study has convinced Weinberger his previous policy pronouncements and strictures against sexual harassment have not been sufficient, said Dr. David J. Armor, the acting assistant secretary for personnel.
"We have made a great deal of progress on the problem of sexual harassment and the integration of women in the services inside the continental United States," he continued.
"We do not hear these kinds of reports for the most part at U.S. installations. So, obviously, the focus of the task force will be on the conditions overseas and why it is that we seem to get these kinds of problems developing there."