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Tara Klamp

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January 1999 Email this to a friend
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Circumcision to Go!
Hold the cheese

"Build a better mousetrap!" was perhaps Dr. Gurcharan Singh's motto as he worked for over 20 years, with help from the Malaysian government, developing the Tara Klamp. Though the device is designed to snap shut fatally on living tissue, it's not likely to harm a whisker on any rodentia unless that's someone's playful nickname for the tail that dangles between men's legs.

Resembling a cork screw, the Tara Klamp bills itself as "the world's first-ever device for non-invasive male circumcisions."

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Just how "non-invasive" can amputating the foreskin get? Quite, judging by the claims asserted on the web site of the device's Kuala Lumpur manufacturer http://www.taraklamp.com.my (or see Circlist).

The clamp is based on what Dr. Singh says is his discovery of a form of surgery "performed by using the body's ability to reject non-viable tissues." The Tara Klamp renders the foreskin "non-viable" essentially by choking. While a flared plastic tube protects the glans, a plastic ring snaps shut over the prepuce, cutting off its blood supply. The body's "rejection" of the now non-viable foreskin is aided by a "tissue cutter," which comes supplied with every sterile, disposable Tara Klamp. With the tourniquet-like ring securely in place, there is "no bleeding, no oozing" while the operator uses the ring's edge to guide the blade. Five or so days later, the ring comes off, and the freshly circumcised man or boy can enjoy his cock's new "uniformly and cosmetically pleasing appearance."

Does all this add up to, as the manufacturer's slogan would have it, "A kinder cut in circumcision surgery"? Photos of the Tara Klamp in action indeed suggest penises caught in mousetraps; even a dedicated hater of cock cheese might find them nightmarish.

But the medical world is excited. A society of Indian urologists meeting in Jaipur in October 1995 awarded Dr. Singh a medal, and the Tara Klamp has been honored at exhibitions of new inventions in Switzerland and Bulgaria. The device has inspired other inventors-- the subsequent Smart Klamp, Sunathrone clamp, (shown in action here) and Kirve Klamp could all be deemed Sons of Tara Klamp.

And why not some fuss? "For the first time in surgical history," the manufacturer claims, the Tara Klamp "allows circumcision to be performed just as aseptically at home, on the roadsides, or out there in the bush as in an operating theater."

That's not as bizarre as it sounds to people in Malaysia and other countries with large Muslim populations. Like their Judaic cousins, Muslim males are compelled to sacrifice their foreskin to the heavens. The operation is often deferred until boys are old enough to appreciate what is happening, or even until puberty, and the rite of passage is often performed by the local barber or holy man. Even in American hospitals, the operation sometimes ends in disaster with accidentally amputated penises and deadly infections. With surgery conducted in a barber's street stall, the dangers multiply. A sterile, disposable device that doesn't take training to use could have real utility even if only because it reduces risks of a procedure without much utility of its own.

But at 40 dollars a pop, the Tara Klamp is unlikely to help many people who couldn't already afford expert medical assistance. Nonetheless, more than 10,000 of the devices have been sold so far, and it is in use all around Asia. "In the USA, we need to apply for FDA approval," Tan Chew Lian, a spokesperson for the manufacturer, tells The Guide. "We plan to do so."

The Tara Klamp touts its Islamic credentials. It is religiously certified by the Malaysian Prime Minister's Department, and Morocco awarded the device the Prize of the Ministry of Public Health. But infidel America remains one of the world's most eager circumcisers, for hygienic reasons that may be no less dubious than a covenant with Allah or Yahweh, but are far less exalted. The mania for cutting off foreskins, not coincidentally, gives US doctors a multimillion-dollar annual windfall. The Tara Klamp may have its most profitable future, ironically, not on roadsides of Fez or in the Botswanan bush, but in the nimble, grasping fingers of America's obstetricians. **

Editor's Note: from The Guide, January 1997

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