Dhobi Khana WASHING Collective in Kochi

Dhobi Khana (dhobikhana) is a laundry collective is made up of 45 self-employed families, laundry men and women, working seven days a week, without insurance, retirement or any other substantive benefits. Workers wash by beating clothes directly, repeatedly on slabs of stone while standing in pools of water.

Dhobi Khana Washing Collective in Kochi, India - 2

They use no protection for their skin from bleach or the other chemicals used. Many still use coals from coconut shells to fire their irons weighing about eight-kilograms. Several workers have been here since childhood, like Shanmugham (86) or Pratti (68). The Dhobi Khana’s Joint Secretary, Mr. Satish, sums up the basic challenge facing the workers by saying “If they don’t do this work, how do they eat? Apart from this, they don’t know nothing.”

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