News Articles on MESA Archive (return to list)
Western Parent - June/July 2001 - Vol.V No.5
By Gus Sleiman
MESA Fights for the Rights of Men and Fathers
The Western Parent featured a full front page color
photograph of a father holding a baby against his bosom.
The Men’s Educational Support Association
(MESA) is devoted to helping men, fathers and their children in
domestic crisis. MESA, along with an ever-growing number of men
and father’s rights organizations that span Canada, the United
States and other countries, is committed to preserving the
integrity of fatherhood for the sake of the children.
MESA offers support to men and women in
conflict with the aim of reducing the incidence of domestic
violence. The association also works to promote a healthy
two-parent family and, with it, real gender equality. MESA
believes that the interests of children are best served by
having both parents participating fully in their children's
lives even after separation or divorce.
As an organization, MESA accepts that
aggression and abuse are human issues not a gender issues and
works to raise public awareness of the effects of physical,
sexual and psychological abuse upon both the individual and
society as a whole.
The issue of domestic violence is a serious
societal problem. MESA provide an unconditional supportive
environment in the community for both acknowledging and
validating the physical and emotional abuse that victimizes. In
its simplest form, abuse occurs if another person hurts you or
treats you badly. Abuse can take many forms; it can be physical,
sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. An example of
emotional abuse is denying a parent access to a child after
separation or divorce.
MESA WORKS TO CORRECT IMBALANCE
While academic research indicates that both
women and men are almost equally responsible for abusing each
other, there is a tendency by governments in Canada to advance
and finance one-sided public awareness campaigns that
characterize family violence as a crime against women carried
out by men. This political and societal labeling of men as
abusers and perpetrators of violence is the challenging task
facing MESA and its volunteers. Key to this task is changing the
traditional view of the media. The media's representation of
domestic violence has, in the past, been biased against men.
Through persistent work, MESA is now beginning to see a
noticeable change in reporting; with some media outlets and
journalists seeking a more balanced representation of women and
Perhaps, the most challenging of the task
facing MESA is convincing men themselves to speak out about
their own experiences. MESA is there to listen and provide a
friendly and supportive environment to men and fathers. By
lending an ear to men, men are coming forward with their stories
of abuse and alienation suffered at the hands of spouses,
families, and the court system.
Compared to women, men are severely
disadvantaged when it comes to societal support services and
programs. Men, when in crisis,do not have access to battered
men’s shelters, or programs to help men obtain access to their
children. There is no office of men’s health, there are no men’s
studies program, men’s life span is shorter by five to seven
years than women, men are more than twice as likely to be
murdered, and have the highest rate of injury on the job and the
highest rate of suicide. MESA strives to correct this imbalance
in social programming.
BIAS OF COURTS BIGGEST HURDLE
Fathers are regularly deprived of parenting
their children when they are reduced, after a separation or
divorce, to no more than weekend visitors. This is carried out
in the name of justice. The bias of the courts is expressed in
an irrational, over-identification of children with their
mothers, to the exclusion of the dependence and need children
feel for their fathers. For many men, the aftermath of court
rulings fosters a powerful and destructive climate of anger,
pain, and frustration.
Code phrases such as “Tender years doctrine,”
“the primary care-giver” and the much used, “the best interest
of the child” are used in the decision making process to erode
our families through the systemic dismantling of fatherhood.
PARENT AND CHILD ACCESS CENTER
The non-existence of Access Enforcement
programs, despite what Canada’s Divorce Act advocates about the
children need to have as much contact as possible with each
parent, has moved MESA to establish the Parent and Child Access
Center. The center helps parents maintain a meaningful
relationship and stay involved in the lives of their children
after separation or divorce. The Parent and Child Access Center
is dedicated to enabling maximum contact and ensuring it is safe
and as pleasant as possible for all involved.
CHILDREN NEED DADS...NOT VISITORS
As the lives of many children across Canada
are affected by the separation or the divorce of their parents,
Alberta families are faced with a devastating rate of
approximately 8000 divorces per year. It is one of the highest
divorce rates in Canada. When the children are involved, mothers
are awarded custody, care, and control almost exclusively.
Fathers are effectively removed from the lives of their children
and their attempts to remain involved are thwarted.
It is time for our governments to concentrate
on building a healthy family by supporting the two-parent
family, by amending the Divorce Act to reflect the concept of
Equal Shared Parenting and to provide support programs to men.
These are the aims of MESA.
To support these aims, MESA yearly sponsors a
father's Day event that brings fathers, their children and their
supporters to Prince's Island Park to enjoy and celebrate
"Preserving the integrity of fatherhood for
the sake of the children"
MEN'S EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT ASSOCIATION (MESA)
P.O. Box 4691 Station "C" Calgary, Alberta, T2T 5P1
Gus Sleiman is the President of MESA
Copyright © 2001 The Western Parent
The Western Parent provides parents and professionals with
timely information and resources available to enhance all
aspects of parenting and family life. And, to facilitate a
shared sense of community among parents by providing useful
material, support and a forum for dialogue on issues that are
important to all of us as individuals, parents and families.
The Western Parent
Suite 206, 1039 - 17 Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2T 0B1
Tel: (403) 543-3775
Fax: (403) 543-3779
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