Afghanistan’s Band-e-Amir National Park was known for having employed the country’s first-ever female park rangers. Now, women won’t even be allowed to visit, let alone work there, as the Taliban deepens its repressive rule over the country.

Afghanistan’s Minister for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, announced Saturday that women will no longer be able to visit the popular park, located in central Bamiyan province, one of the country’s poorest and least developed regions.

Established in 2019 by the local Afghan government in collaboration with several international agencies including USAID and the United Nations Development Programme, the park was considered a peaceful oasis with deep blue lakes surrounded by mountains.

Heather Barr, associate director of the women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Monday that the ban shows how “the walls are closing in on women” within Afghanistan.

“Not content with depriving girls and women of education, employment, and free movement, the Taliban also want to take from them parks and sport and now even nature, as we see from this latest ban on women visiting Band-e-Amir,” she said.

“Step by step the walls are closing in on women as every home becomes a prison.”

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