Mauritania, a poor, mainly Muslim nation, has deep social and racial divides, each group with its unique marriage norms. While divorce is widely accepted among the majority Moors, it is almost impossible among the Mauritanians of African descent. And while domestic violence is frowned upon among the Moors, of Arab and Berber descent, it is seen as an act of love and an accepted practice for certain other ethnic groups, said social researcher Sidi Boyada, an advisor at the ministry of social affairs. Mauritanian law stipulates "sanity" and "marriageable age" as preconditions for getting married, leaving the door open for early marriage by giving parents the right to decide. Mauritanian women of African descent accept being beaten to avoid divorce, convincing themselves their husbands' violence is a sign of love. Domestic violence against women was criminalized in 2001, and under Mauritanian law, wifebeating is a crime punishable with up to five years in prison.