UK & World News
EastEnders' Rita Simons Accused Over Deaf Op
An EastEnders star who wants her deaf six-year-old daughter to have an operation to help her hear says she has been accused of abusing the child.
Rita Simons, who plays Roxy Mitchell in the BBC soap, said she and her husband, Theo Silveston, have encountered "extraordinary" hostility making the decision.
Their daughter Maiya, who has a twin sister Jaimee with perfect hearing, will undergo a cochlear implant operation to give her hearing in both ears.
Simons told Hello! magazine the hostility "comes mainly from people who firmly believe that deafness should be embraced rather than treated as a physical deficiency that should be corrected".
She said: "I totally respect their point of view. But when a 19-year-old girl told me that I was an 'abuser' to let my child have a cochlear implant, I was horrified and deeply hurt.
"I would throw myself in front of a bus for my girls, and yet I was being judged by someone who didn't know me or understand my emotional stance at all."
Simons said she wanted to treat Maiya, who featured with her in a BBC documentary about deafness, the same way as Jaimee.
She told the magazine: "We've brought Maiya up as a hearing child, and she attends the same mainstream school as her twin sister.
"She was born with some hearing; when that goes completely it will leave a void in her life and she will miss it.
"All we want to do is give her back what she has lost and help to expand her life.
"If you've got the opportunity to give your child the gift of sound, why would you not do that?"
Simons added: "We know it's not a miracle cure and her hearing won't be perfect.
"But, in time her brain will process what it is hearing and compensate, making sounds more familiar to her."
:: Read the full interview in Hello! Magazine out now.