Sweety Sen was born a woman in India. When she was young, she was often described as being a tomboy, but still held herself out as being a woman. In 2013 she decided to cut her hair short, and started holding herself out as a man. She began going by the name, “Krishna Sen.”
Sweety’s First Wife, Kamini
In 2014, Sweety met Kamini. Kamini was 22 years-old and the two met each other online. Believing Sweety was actually a man, Kamini eventually married Sweety. Sweety reportedly used sex toys to aid in the deception.
Over time, Sweety became abusive to Kamini. She also demanded a dowry from Kamini’s family. She received a dowry of 8.5 lakhs, which equates to approximately $11,603.
Sweety’s Second Wife, Nisha
Sweety already knew her second wife, Nisha. Nisha was present at Kamini and Sweety’s wedding. The two married in 2016. The same year, Nisha discovered the deception, but Sweety paid her to keep her quiet.
All three parties lived together. Sweety became abusive to both wives. She drank, smoked, and rode bikes with other men. When she went out, she would leave Nisha and Kamini in a room together.
Eventually, Kamini went to the police and lodged a complaint regarding domestic violence and “dowry harassment” (unlawful in India). During the course of the police investigation, it became clear that Sweety was a female. They had to conduct examinations to verify that it was true.
On February 14, 2018, Sweety was arrested. She was initially being charged with dowry harassment. However, when they realized she wasn’t male, they had to amend the charges. India doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, meaning that the marriages were void, which in turn meant she couldn’t be a husband (a requisite element of the charge of dowry harassment). Instead, Sweety was charged with forgery, impersonation, and fraud.
The investigation revealed that Sweety was planning to marry a third woman before she was arrested.
What If This Happened Here?
This all took place in India. Needless to say, Indian law is very different than the law here in Arizona. In the United States we do recognize same-sex marriage. However, we don’t have a criminal charge for dowry harassment.
Thus while either of the marriages would have been automatically void in India (because India does not recognize same-sex marriage), that would not be the case in the United States. Meaning if here, there would still be a question about the validity of the marriages.
Arizona does not allow a person to have more than one spouse at a time and having two would make the second one void from the start. Arizona Constitution, Article 20, Section 2. Thus, even acknowledging our same-sex marriage laws, the automatic nullification of the second marriage would be different from the result in India.
Additionally, in Arizona, one of the parties would likely have to seek an annulment of the marriage in order to get rid of it. Note that deception about material representations prior to the marriage can be grounds for an annulment. State Compensation Fund v. Foughty, 13 Ariz. 381, 476 P.2d 902 (Ct. App. 1970).