'EASTENDERS' star Rita Simons has been accused of abusing her deaf six-year-old daughter after deciding she should undergo an oper-ation to enable her to hear.
Simons – who plays Roxy Mitchell in the BBC soap – and her husband Theo Silveston have decided Maiya will undergo a cochlear implant operation to give her hearing in both ears.
She told 'Hello!' magazine the couple had encountered "extraordinary" hostility due to the decision.
"It comes mainly from people who firmly believe that deafness should be embraced rather than treated as a physical deficiency that should be corrected.
"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 her twin sister Jaimee, who has perfect hearing.
"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," she added.