From Katherine Butler @ the Independent:
One reason for the widespread public support for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan was genuine revulsion at the treatment of Afghan women under the Taliban. Shocking videos of women being flogged or executed by firing squads in football stadiums for "adultery" had been smuggled out by campaigners in the late 1990s. Many people assumed that with the disappearance of Mullah Omar and his extremist followers, women would no longer be regarded as lower in status than farm animals, fit only for household drudgery or reproduction.
Girls would be able to go to school, and their mothers or sisters allowed to work, or even just enjoy ordinary pleasures such as travelling in a taxi, singing, laughing in public, or venturing out of the home without a male relative or a heavy blue cloak covering every inch. Western leaders were eager too to play up the "liberation of the women" as one of the noble aims of the military engagement in Afghanistan.Pervez Kambaksh has now benefited from a behind-closed-doors act of clemency from the Afghan president. But the fact that the student must flee in fear of his life because he circulated an article questioning attitudes to women in Islam suggests that the supposed introduction of democracy and eight years of war have delivered scant progress.